Interview with a partner: APA Family Services

We would like to give thanks to a special partner agency: APA Family Services in SF. They are a valued community partner and provide essential support services to Asian/Pacific Islander children and families in need.

We interviewed Lena Yu, Program Coordinator for Chinatown center-based programs. Lena started off as a volunteer at APA while she was studying Community Development within the Asian American Studies program at SF State University. After graduation she decided to take the opportunity to stay with APA because she fell in love with the warm and caring staff and wanted to continue to see the happy faces of the children she got to work with.

Why is APA’s mission important to you?

Growing up in a traditional first generation family, there were times when my family struggled and I felt like there was no one that understood what I was going through. APA’s mission and work touches on this and works hand in hand with struggling families to build a good foundation in order for this to happen.

What are some of the unique cultural challenges for the Asian community?

Asian families struggle just like any other family in America, but it can be especially hard to reach Asian families because of the taboo and stereotypes due to culture, traditional values and a lack of understanding in this new country. The immigrant parents often carry over practices such as physical punishment, verbal threats, and emotional abuse. Parents are often under stress and turn to parenting styles they grew up with.

Another cultural challenge is of course the language barriers that families face.  Not being able to communicate your needs is something that can leave parents feeling helpless and hopeless. Having someone, like APA to hold their hand and help guide them makes the journey less scary.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Watching the families grow and have a great time at our center.  Many mothers that come into the center are often new immigrants and have very few friends and support. Many become great friends outside of the center and that is the best feeling for me.

Watching young children graduate from our parent-child groups and entering preschool and kindergarten makes me feel like a proud parent as well, especially when they come and visit us many years later.

How do you view HAMO’s role in APA’s vision?

HAMO has been partners with APA since 2010 when diaper banks were being closed down due to lack of funding and staffing. Diapers have been a main concern and working with HAMO we hope to continue to provide this essential resource to families and help alleviate some of the stresses they face. Our monthly diaper distribution, thanks to HAMO’s kind donations, has really helped us reach out to isolated families that are hidden and do not know where to turn for help.

Is there something you would want the SF community to know?

In the nooks and crannies of beautiful San Francisco, there are struggling families trying to survive and live day to day.  It is important to remember how fortunate one is when others around them are facing constant trials.  Giving someone strength and hope is one of the greatest gifts any one person can give to another.