Young Volunteers Join Forces To Strengthen Asian-American Community

BILOXI (WLOX) -- "This is where we grew up. A lot of memories," said Gai Kaitlin Truong, as she stared at an empty lot.

The land is all that remains of her childhood home in East Biloxi.  It was the first home her parents bought to raise six children.

"When it deals with family, I get emotional about it," Truong said. "So many people have lost so much."

That sense of loss and love for her community, motivated Truong to do more to help Vietnamese families that are suffering. So she formed a local, non-profit group called Asian-Americans for Change.

"We know that a lot of the non-profit organizations are not going to be here for the next five years," Truong said. "So we're grass roots, to bridge the gap between the Vietnamese and the English-speaking community."

Six young people have joined this new cause. Right now, they're working on their first service project -- a health fair.

"It's going to be wonderful," said Truong. "It's a cost savings for the low-income people who don't have insurance."

The group will also offer translation services and help cut some of the red tape that can hinder the recovery process.

"We want to be able to represent the Asian-American community," Truong said. "We want to be able to have a voice within the political arena, and we want to be able to empower leadership."

Group members are in the process of setting up an office, recruiting volunteers, and seeking funding. They want to make sure they have a permanent presence in East Biloxi.

"We're at an infant stage. We are dedicated to lending a helping hand to the long-term recovery process," Truong said. "I'm looking for anyone who has that heart and desire, and passion and compassion to help the community."

Members of Asian Americans for Change are also trying to help struggling shrimpers find jobs on land, and offer English language classes. Their health fair, called "Spring into Health," will be held on Sunday, March 9, from noon until 4:00, at the Biloxi Community Center.