Love and Caring Luncheon at the St. Vincent de Paul

Photos by Godfrey Lee.

The Marin County Vietnamese Community hosted their 6th Annual Love and Caring Luncheon on Fri.  Nov. 8, 2019, at the St Vincent de Paul Society dining room on 820 B St. in San Rafael.

The luncheon is prepared each year by the Vietnamese American Community to show their gratitude to the United States government and the American people who had opened their hearts and arms to welcome the Vietnamese refugees beginning in 1975.

About 300 homeless people were served by 18 people, mostly women from the Vietnamese community, who busily cooked a traditional lunch consisting of chicken, noodles, soup, spring rolls and cake. VN Noodle & Grill, and Yu Shang Restaurant, both in San Rafael, donated the food.

Used clothing was also given away at the end of the luncheon.

Vinh Luu, director of the Marin Asian Advocacy Project (MAAP), helped to organize the luncheon. Luu came to the U.S. in 1975 as a refugee. He worked as a research specialist for the United States embassy during the war.

Luu and his family now live in Marin. His work with MAAP includes translation and interpretation services, assistance with citizenship paper work, organizing cultural events, mental health and nutrition workshops, and the annual Love and Caring luncheons.

An estimated 125,000 Vietnamese refugees migrated to the U.S. at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, followed by more than 5,000 in 1976 to1977, according to Wikipedia. They arrived at reception camps in the Philippines and Guam before being transferred to temporary housing at U.S. military bases. After preparations for resettlement, they were assigned to one of nine voluntary agencies (VOLAGs) to help them find financial and personal support from sponsors in the U.S.

In 2017, more than 1.3 million Vietnamese resided in the United States, with 61,000 living in San Francisco, Oakland, Hayward, and 102,000 living in San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, according to the Migration Policy Institute. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the population of Vietnamese Americans to be higher, at around 2 million, with California having 40% of the population.

While Vietnamese Americans have come to the U.S. primarily as refugees, with little or no money, Census data indicates that Vietnamese Americans are an upwardly-mobile group whose economic status improved substantially between 1989 and 1999. While 10.6 percent of Vietnamese Americans lived under the poverty line in 2017, the median household income for Vietnamese Americans was $65,600, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


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