Chinese-American groups give 12,400 masks to first responders
More than 20 local Chinese-American organizations pooled their resources to donate 12,400 face masks and more than a dozen face shields to Clackamas County on May 20.
Organized by the Chinese Friendship Association of Portland, the Intel Chinese Employee Network and the United Chinese Association of Oregon, an amalgamation of groups wanted to help Clackamas County's frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19.
10,000 of these masks and the 20 face shields will go to Clackamas County Health Centers; another 2,000 will be split between the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office and Clackamas Fire District. An additional 400 masks will be given to the Clackamas County Health, Housing and Human Services Department.
County Commissioner Martha Schrader – who also serves on the Oregon China Council's board of directors — was on hand to receive the donation Wednesday and commend the efforts of these groups that have partnered to make a difference locally through their donations.
"Many of the Chinese-Americans who helped to donate these masks live right here in Clackamas County, and we're so grateful to have such wonderful neighbors," Schrader said. "I have a great love of China, I've been there at least three times and hope when (this outbreak) is over I get the chance to visit again. It's a wonderful country with wonderful folks, and our Chinese-American residents here have gone out of their way to make sure that we all can be protected against COVID-19. For that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart."
Andrew Suchocki, medical director for Clackamas County Health Centers, said that this donation will provide some stability in terms of the county's PPE supply chain.
"It definitely puts us at ease, but the reason I believe it really matters is, when you think about testing, it's always a mixture of the availability of staff, tests and PPE," Suchocki said. "Those all need to be at the right level whether we're testing symptomatic patients or in the future when we're testing a lot more people. Those three things are constantly in flux, so this donation provides reassurance, because keeping a stable supply chain of PPE has been difficult."
Iris Zhao, advisory board chair of the Chinese Friendship Association of Portland, took the opportunity to thank the heroic efforts of all the county's frontline workers. She pointed out that May is Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, and that she and her fellow Chinese-American Oregonians were reminded of the efforts of Chinese-Americans in helping to complete the Trans-Continental Railroad 150 years ago.
Locally, she recalled the memory of Ing "Doc" Hay, a Chinese-American citizen who set up a clinic in John Day that is now memorialized as the Kam Wah Chung State Park as a monument to Hay's efforts in treating many Oregonians as an herbalist and practitioner of traditional medicine. Hay was recognized as a beacon of the Chinese-American community throughout the state until his death at age 89 in 1952.
According to Zhao, when Hay's clinic was cleaned out, a box of uncashed checks totalling more than $23,000 was found from former patients. She said that Hay felt many of the patients needed the money more than himself, and refused to cash their checks.
"It demonstrates the Chinese-American value of benevolence and righteousness," Zhao said. "By following in the footsteps of generations of older Chinese-Americans, we recognize supporting each other in our community and unity will allow us to overcome this global pandemic."
Fellow Chinese-American community leader Timmy Tso also thanked the efforts of frontline workers, and noted that the only way forward through this pandemic is together.
"COVID-19 is a common virus, and we need to work together to solve this problem and to protect our community," Tso said. "We're proud to make this donation."
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