Home, Soul, & Elegance Recap

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Thank you for joining us for Home, Soul, & Elegance!  This year, we had over 500 people in attendance — the most ever for our Gala — and raised more than $170,000!  Your support will help us to continue providing a “second home” for our families to grow and thrive!

Check out our honoree videos and acceptance speeches! Pictures from the night’s festivities can be found in the “Photo Gallery & Videos” section below!

2016 Honorees

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Byron Ho

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Little did Byron realize he was already a third generation Donaldina Cameron House/Presbyterian Church in Chinatown (PCC) participant, when he was invited to the Friday Night Club program at the end of middle school. Over the course of several adult conversations with his parents, Benton and Mildred Ho, Byron learned about some of their family history. Byron’s maternal grandmother utilized services at Cameron House after being released from Angel Island. Byron’s mother and two aunts attended Sunday school at PCC while growing up in Chinatown. Byron was enrolled in daycamp for two years in grammar school, reconnected with a couple of fellow daycampers (Fred Wong and Don Ng) while attending Friday Night Club, and formed lifelong friendships with many others.

During his high school and college years, Byron learned leadership skills and the importance of community service through various opportunities at Cameron House, PCC, and the larger SF community. Some of these opportunities include: serving as a daycamp leader, co-chairing a Variety Show and Family Formal, being a youth delegate to General Assembly, and a Chinatown-North Beach Youth Council representative, helping to setup the initial JCYC site, and attending I-Hotel rallies and Chinatown housing hearings.

When he started his career as an electronics technician, Byron – along with Mariko Yanagihara – were college-age advisors to the Cameron House group Maranatha. Byron was later selected to be a part of a PCC group of Volunteers in Mission, designated to serve in southeast Alaskan native towns. A few years after that, a group of young men walked through the doors of Cameron House and wanted to start their own Friday Night Club group. Brad Woo recruited Don Ng, Newton Lam, Stan Hui, and Byron to lead the Flying Dragons, a mixed age group of Burmese, Taiwanese, and Hong Kong born youth.

Changing his career path, Byron became a manager for Walgreens; he joined the San Bruno Avenue Merchants Association, which sought to improve the neighborhood’s environment, community relations, and safety; he volunteered to serve on a Community Advisory Board (CAB), which focused on the various psychiatric services offered at SF General Hospital. Byron later became the chair of the CAB, and was recruited to serve on the Mental Health Board (MHB) for the SF Department of Public Health. Aside from developing plans and budgets during these years, some of the major achievements by the CAB & MHB were: changed staffing policies for ethnic/cultural sensitivity; acquired funding for the renovation of the SF General Hospital Psychiatric Emergency Services; initiated a winning bond proposal for a skilled nursing facility.

Another change came when Byron married Karen, who had children Tiffany and Ryan Bautista, and together they had Jeremy Ho. While their children were enrolled in daycamp and Friday Night Club, Karen and Byron helped with their school, Cameron House, community service, and athletic activities. Byron also served on the Cameron House Board, and later on the Cameron House Foundation Board. During this period, Byron was Carnival chair and recruited help from his former club groups, and drew on the energy of youth leaders like Beverly Yip.

Throughout his service, Byron believed in the principle that “everyone wants to do good”. Guidance from Byron’s family, friends, & mentors allowed him to do just that. Byron is proud that his children, along with nephew Derek Emmons, served in leadership roles at Cameron House, and looks forward to working with his family’s next generation in ‘doing good’.

Honoree Video & Acceptance Speech

Lenora Lee

Lenora Lee by Andy Nozaka_1320-4X5

The second of three children born to Alson and JoAnn Lee, Lenora was the third generation in her family to grow-up in the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown (PCC). She was the second generation, after her parents, to attend Friday Night Club and summer daycamp programs at Donaldina Cameron House. Having served as a daycamp leader, Sunday school teacher, and briefly as a club leader, Lenora is deeply grateful for the connections made and major support given over the years.

Walking this part of her journey with club leaders Heidi and Anthony Wong, Ivy Yee, Bryan Nobida, sister Karina Lee Howe, brother Bronson Lee, peer counseling mentor Bradford Woo and numerous club friends, Lenora gained an understanding of collaboration, leadership training, and community strength that continues to influence her work, philosophy, and relationships.

Through dance classes at City College San Francisco and saxophone lessons from Francis Wong, she began to translate her understanding of the world, with all its challenges and beauty, into movement and sound. Feeling further compelled to deepen her study in these avenues of communication and their applications in living and portraying life with a greater sense of humanity, Lenora received her Bachelor of Arts in Choreography and Performance from the University of California, Los Angeles.

After moving back to San Francisco, Lenora served as Project Coordinator and Managing Director of Asian American Dance Performances (1999 – 2002). She co-directed multidisciplinary performing arts organizations Red Jade Collective and Sambasia, collaborated with many individual artists, and performed with Melody Takata’s Gen Taiko (2001 – 2004). From 2004 – 2007 Lenora worked at labor unions UNITE HERE and Service Workers United in New York City. It was her experiences within the international dance community there, and her interactions with compassionate organizers, that fueled her rigor and commitment to art-making and social justice.

For the last eight years Lenora has been Artistic Director of her own dance company, Lenora Lee Dance (LLD), Project Manager for Asian Improv aRts, and Program Associate at the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum. In 2013 she was an Artist Fellow at the de Young Museum and a Djerassi Resident Artist. She is currently a Visiting Scholar at New York University and an Artist in Residence at Dance Mission Theater.

Supported by the California Arts Council and San Francisco Arts Commission, Lenora has had the pleasure of working with Corey Chan, Francis Wong, and Casey Chow to provide creative movement, interviewing, and writing workshops for Cameron House youth and women’s support groups. She is deeply grateful for the support she has received from the PCC and Cameron House communities in cultivating and being a part of her artistic residencies and projects over the last four years.

LLD has been pushing the envelope of large-scale multimedia dance performance that connects various styles of movement and music to culture, history, and human rights issues. It creates works that are set in public and private spaces, intimate and at the same time large-scale, inspired by individual stories as well as community strength. It has gained increasing attention for its sustained pursuit of issues related to immigration, global conflict, human trafficking and its impacts, particularly on women and families.

Lenora’s ability to follow this artistic path is due to the generosity of her parents who have supported her unconditionally and to her family, friends, members of Cameron House, PCC, and other art and non-profit organizations. She is incredibly grateful to be a part of communities that include so many compassionate and generous individuals. www.LenoraLeeDance.com

Honoree Video & Acceptance Speech

Gum Moon / Asian Women's Resource Center

Gum Moon  Logo 2015


Gum Moon was founded as the Oriental Home and School in 1868. The original mission was to rescue Chinese girls sold into slavery and prostitution and provide them with housing and education. By the late 1800’s, the rescue mission waned; but a new mission emerged. The Oriental Home and School became an orphanage for Chinese girls and babies abandoned by poor families who could not keep them. Not long afterward, the Oriental Home also evolved into a Kindergarten for Chinese children barred from San Francisco public schools as a result of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. Through it all, the Oriental Home continued to provide affordable housing for women, remaining faithful to its original mission—even when its name had changed. In the 1940’s, the Oriental Home became Gum Moon—“Golden Door” in Cantonese. The name implied opportunity for all who entered. Inspired by this, the Board of Directors decided that it was time for the agency to expand and serve the broader Asian community in San Francisco.

Transitional Housing 

Gum Moon provides safe, affordable housing for survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. Gum Moon is a home away from home for these women; providing single and double rooms including common recreation areas and kitchen facilities. A multilingual staff provides supportive services and counseling for clients in need. The staff encourages interaction and activities among the residents, creating a warm family environment for a place that is “home” to these women. We hope to foster increased self-confidence and self-esteem for our clients by providing bilingual informal counseling and case management services. We also provide our clients with information and referral services for language classes and employment training.

Asian Women’s Resource Center

In 1984, Gum Moon established our community project, known as the Asian Women’s Resource Center. This outreach component of Gum Moon began with 3 vocational training programs. Today, nearly 31 years later, it has a myriad of educational programs and social services. Some of the programs of the AWRC include the following:

  •  Parent-Child Interactive Groups that promote early literacy and school readiness strategies for caregivers and their children 0 to 5 years old.
  •  Parent Support Groups that aim to help strengthen parent child relationships.
  • Parenting Education Workshops to empower immigrant parents with skills and knowledge necessary to bring up healthy children.
  • Summer School, which provides academic tutorial and socialization for low to moderate income children from 1st to 6th grade.
  • Weekend Piano and Children’s Art classes.
  • Information and Referral services for families

Gum Moon also has two satellite family resource centers in San Francisco’s Richmond and Sunset/OMI districts. These two centers, which comprise the Asian Family Support Project, provide comprehensive family support services to Asian immigrant families with children ages 0-5 who live in the Richmond and Sunset/OMI neighborhoods. In 2015, our agency served a combined total of 5,500 clients.

Honoree Video & Acceptance Speech

Bert Tom

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Bert Tom was born in San Francisco to Kwong Tong Tom and Hoot Nguey T. Chin. After going to Iowa for college, he was drawn back to the Bay Area to get involved in community development. While he may never have intended to be a leader, mentor, or best friend, he was just that to more people than can be counted. He was a champion for equality and equity in social, civil, and political issues. Bert never did anything for the recognition, yet it is important to highlight his relentless commitment to working with the people and for the people.

He was received and ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1960 and was proud to serve Cameron House for nine years with his family. Bert’s ministry included Magnolia United Presbyterian Church in Riverside, CA; Cameron House and Presbyterian Church in Chinatown in San Francisco; Synod of the Pacific as the Program Coordinator for Ethnic and Urban Church Affairs; and Associate Presbyter for Mission and Evangelism for the Presbytery of San Francisco, until his retirement in 2000.

Bert’s work history alone does not fully capture nor do justice to the significant service he gave to the church-at-large. Bert served on numerous committees and councils of the Synod of the Golden Gate, Synod of Southern California, and the General Assembly, giving particular time and energy to Self-Development of People and Racial Ethnic Ministries. Serving on the General Assembly Urban Strategy Task Force, Bert helped develop the 10 Year Urban Ministry Strategy Plan for the PC (USA). Related to that, Bert traveled extensively and studied urban congregations across the country, leading to the publication of two books: Vital Signs of Urban Congregations in 2006 and Creating Pathways for New Life in Urban Congregations – Changes and Opportunities in 2010.

All in all, Bert’s family, both blood-related and not, remembers him for his sense of humor, strength, wisdom, and vitality. He especially valued spending time with his children – Drew, Eric, David, Jordan, and Whittney – and eight grandchildren.

It was at a personal level that Bert’s dedication and extensive service to the church made a difference. All who came in contact with Bert were significantly touched and influenced by him. Bert was a pastor, teacher, mentor, colleague, and friend to us. A larger than life personality, Bert was a force to be reckoned with. He had passion for and was a prophetic voice for justice and racial ethnic congregations and ministries. He was deeply committed to grassroots self- development. His faith in humanity was grounded in his belief in the goodness of all beings. His fearlessness and courage in the face of change was grounded in the transformative relationship with Christ. That was his path, but he was open to all other paths and did not view that relationship as a requirement for fearlessness and courage. Bert saw his mission as all about change and that mission was the primary responsibility of the church community. Bert faced change and future uncertainty with an unfailing hope because he believed deeply and strongly in the power and strength of community, and of connectionalism. For Bert, what mattered was what God was doing in the streets and alleyways of neighborhoods and cities. It is not the religious vocabulary we use that matters, but how we live our lives for the sake of others. In word and deed to the very end, Bert embodied the prophetic charge of Micah: “To act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Honoree Video & Acceptance Speech

Photo Gallery & Videos


Check out more images on our Picasa Web Album! Thanks to photographers Stuart Go, Nancy Chee, Rory MacLysaght, and Corby Lee (Photobox)!


Raymond Li Speech

Michael Zhao Speech

June 18 - August 3, 2018

Join Us this Summer!

Summer will be here before you know it, so be sure to grab a spot in our programs today!  Register now or learn more about our three summer programs:  Branches Youth Program, Cameron Ventures, and Solid Ground.