Thai Community Development Center’s 20th Anniversary Gala: Rise of the Thai Americans Pays Tribute to the Accomplishments of Thai CDC and Honors the Contributions of Individuals to the Thai Community

On September 18, 2014, the Thai Community Development Center celebrated its 20th Anniversary gala to commemorate 20 years of serving the community and to pay tribute to the accomplishments of Thai Americans and their important and significant contributions to our economy, political landscape, and social/cultural fabric and other individuals who advanced the material and social interests of the Thai community. The Social Impact Awards highlighted the significant achievements of: Dr. Vichit-Vadakan who received Thai CDC’s Lifetime Achievement Award for being a renowned historian on Thailand and a physician who offered and championed for ¬medical care for those in need; Teresa Chung who received Thai CDC’s Community Service Award for dedicating her time to almost every Thai organization that exists; Anna Park who received Thai CDC’s Legal Impact Award. She is the regional attorney for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, who through her leadership has championed the rights of Thai human trafficking victims in the United States; Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth who received Thai CDC’s Political Impact Award for being the first woman of Thai descent elected to Congress; Cherry Chevapravatdumrong who received Thai CDC’s Arts and Entertainment Award for starting out as the only female writer on the Fox animated series, Family Guy and being an accomplished Thai American author of two novels ; Awirut Tonyuad who received Thai CDC’s Youth Impact Award. He is the son of a labor trafficking victim, who upon his arrival to the U.S., has mentored other youths who face the challenge of acculturating into U.S. mainstream society. Thai CDC also honored its former board members with the Social Impact Awards for their service. They were: Wora Rapp, Dr. Scott Nelson, Donnabel Titong, Pontip Wises and Patrick Tantraphol.
 
“I’m so glad that I attended the 20th Anniversary of the Thai CDC last night,” says Thai American Irene Chansawang of the Annenberg Foundation. “I was thrilled to see Teresa as an honoree, as I know how much time and effort she devotes to the Thai community. I was also very happy to learn about the other honorees—each one making tremendous achievements in their fields. The evening reminded me of how proud I am to be a Thai-American.”
 
“Being recognized for my community service work by Thai Community Development Center is especially meaningful since they are a leader in serving the Thai-American community. It’s this shared sense of purpose that allows us all to contribute what we can to support each other and share and maintain our cultural traditions,” says Community Service Awardee, Teresa Chung. “As a Rotarian, we believe in service above self. Thai Community Development Center has demonstrated this core principal in its daily efforts for the Thai-American community, which is why it is an honor to be recognized by this organization for my community service work.”
 
The achievements of the honorees inspired the almost 200 guests in attendance while the star-studded entertainment captivated everyone with their extraordinary talents. Award winning Thai American playwright and Ted Talk speaker, Prince Gomolvilas, who was the Master of Ceremonies for the action packed evening stated, “Not only is this gala a celebration of an important and inspirational organization, it’s also a way to recognize and document the incredible contributions of Thai Americans to this country’s society and culture. It’s a vital, necessary, and giant step forward out of the shadows of under-representation. Right here, right now, our legacy is being preserved.”
 
Klarissa Mesee launched the evening with the lyrics, “Say what you wanna say, And let the words fall out, Honestly I wanna see you be brave,” from the song “Brave” while Timothy DeLaGhetto, also known as Traphik who has a Youtube following of over 25 million subscribers, offered his humorous version of the song “American Boy” which was retitled, “Asian Boy.” Jumakae’s (June Maris Kaewsith) acoustic melody, “No More,” bridged the modern with that of music reminiscent of the late 60’s civil rights movement while Belle Hengsathorn spoke of fortitude and strength through her version of “The Climb.”
 
“The struggles I’m facing
The chances I’m taking
Sometimes might knock me down, but
No I’m not breaking
I may not know it, but
These are the moments that
I’m gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep goin’,
And I, I gotta be strong
Just keep pushing on, ’cause

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side
It’s the climb.” – The Climb.

Thai CDC celebrated this monumental event at the historic Belasco Theater located at 1050 South Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA . The event not only featured remarkable entertainers but also notable presenters such as: Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, Dante Basco, Gedde Watanabe and Aaron Takahashi.

Silent auction packages worth over $47,000 with dozens of fabulous items including a home renovation kit, destination packages, health and beauty treatments, and tickets for nights out on the town were available to the highest bidder. Dinner was provided by some of L.A.’s most famous Thai restaurants including Jitlada, Palm’s Thai, Win’s Thai Cuisine and Kruang Tedd.
The evening was made possible through the generous support of Thai CDC’s Bronze Sponsors –Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas Company as well as individual Benefactors and Patrons.

Thai CDC is the only Thai-American organization in the nation engaged in community development.

Proceeds from the gala will benefit Thai CDC’s critical programs and services.

Images of the evening can be found here.

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