AARP Eye Center
AARP is proud to announce the winners of its 2nd Asian American and Pacific Islander Community Hero Awards that were created to acknowledge the hard-working staff and volunteers of non-profit organizations serving AAPIs age 50-plus.
We received 61 nominations from around the country including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Washington, DC.
The stellar submissions included executive directors, staff, and volunteers who work in healthcare, housing, social services, education, and media. Ten finalists were selected by AARP; the winners were chosen by AARP AAPI Facebook visitors.
These three AARP Asian American and Pacific Islander Community Hero Award winners and their organizations will each receive a $1,000 cash prize:
Dilafroz Nargis Ahmed
Desi Senior Center Director
Glen Oaks, N.Y.
Dilafroz Nargis Ahmed has helped new immigrants in the Bangladeshi community in Queens, New York for three decades. At Desi senior center India Home, Ahmed works to improve the quality of life of vulnerable South Asian seniors in a culturally appropriate environment. Since 2014, Ahmed has strived to make India Home a comfortable place for immigrant seniors to come together, adjust to living in a new country, and build community. Ahmed also helps Bangladeshi older adults access services and find jobs.
South East Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition
Shongchai Hang has been dedicated to serving Southeast Asian refugee and immigrant elders for more than 30 years. For the past 11 years, Hang has worked as SEAMAAC’s Lao Outreach Worker to help diverse low-income communities in Philadelphia. At weekly Elders Gatherings, he plays an integral role in building bridges between elders from diverse communities. He helps community members to see their own leadership potential, by recruiting and supporting Lao elders to serve on SEAMAAC’s Elders Council. Hang also helps seniors apply for social services and navigate the health care system. Hang’s ability to speak Lao, Hmong, Thai, and English allows him to serve a diverse groups of seniors.
Founder and President Emeritus
Pan-American Concerned Citizens Action League (PACCAL)
Jersey City, N.J.
Linda Mayo has served the local Filipino & Asian American community for more than 30 years. In 1992, Mayo found PACCAL, the first organization in Jersey City to address the health and human service needs of Filipinos and other Asians with a focus on senior citizen and veterans programs. It holds the distinction of being the only Asian Provider Agency recognized by the Hudson County Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Office on Aging. PACCAL is a multi-service organization that organizes social and recreational activities for seniors, assists seniors and veterans apply successfully for affordable housing, coordinates citizenship and voter registrations, helps victims of domestic violence, and holds education, art and cultural workshops.
“Congratulations to Dilafroz, Shongchai, Sharon, and Linda for their exemplary contributions and dedication to our seniors,” said Daphne Kwok, AARP Vice President of Multicultural Leadership, Asian American and Pacific Islander Audience Strategy. “They are unsung heroes who every day are improving the lives of seniors and their families. They devote their time, talents, and passion to making a difference not only to the elders and their families but to the greater community. AARP commends all of our 2017 Heroes and all of those who were nominated for inspiring each and every one of us.”
Congratulations once again to our 2017 AAPI Heroes, and to their organizations!