Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Senator Monty Mason Facilitates United Way Clothing Donation

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YORK-Senator Monty Mason helped facilitate a donation of 1,000 infant and toddler clothing items for families in need during a formal event held at the United Way of the Virginia Peninsula (UWVP) in York County on Friday, May 26. Dr. Hyan Lee, whose family runs SH International, a textile wholesale company that manufactures baby clothing, along with Daeik Chong and Susan Chong, business owners in the Geater Williamsburg area, donated the items for distribution through the UWVP to local nonprofits who provide direct services to families in need of clothing.

“In this job, I have a lot of chances to do and be a part of things that are really pretty extraordinary,” said Mason. “This one is extraordinary on about one hundred different levels.”

Originally from South Korea, Lee, a small business owner, lives in Northern Virginia and assists those in need through Cornerstones, a nonprofit organization that has been serving greater Fairfax County for more than 50 years.

Mason said he’s crossed paths with Lee many times over the years and was pleasantly surprised by her request to donate clothing to local families residing in Hampton Roads. The joint effort was made possible by the Chongs, who have been heavily involved in local Korean associations for the past 50 years.

“Growing up in Korea was a difficult time. We were poor and hungry, but thanks to the United States, we were free from communism,” said Daeik Chong in a written statement read by his wife, Susan Chong. “Thanks to the sacrifice of the American people, we were given the opportunity to do better. When I came to the U.S., I had no material possessions. All I had was the American dream, a belief that if I worked hard enough, then I could make a better life for my family.”

After coming to Williamsburg, Daeik Chong worked as a potter at the Williamsburg Pottery Factory and eventually saved enough money to purchase a home.

“For 30 years, my wife and I lived a life of sacrifice and hard work,” said Daeik Chong. “We used the opportunity to run our own businesses and live the American dream. Over the same time, Korea has become one of the largest economies in the world. The American sacrifice was not in vain. Many years ago, compassionate Americans clothed Korean children, now it is time to return the favor.”

Susan Chong moved from southwest Korea to Williamsburg as a student at the College of William & Mary.

“I had no family here but was taken in by a group of kind American women,” said Susan Chong. “They gave me a home and the support structure that helped me to succeed. I will always remember their kindness. This spirit of giving is what we hope to continue with the United Way. By donating the clothes, we’re not only providing warmth and comfort, but also a message of hope and solidarity. This clothing carries the love and care of the Korean people reaching out to those in need. We hope that through this donation, we can foster cultural understanding and strengthen the bond between our nations. Together, we can make a difference.”

Charvalla West, chief operating officer and director of community impact with UWVP, said the nonprofit is postured to mobilize and harness the kindness and generosity of the communities it serves.

“These gifts will go throughout the Virginia Peninsula, not only to make sure that children are clothed, but just imagine what that’s going to mean for their moms and their ability to provide for their families, and their dads, aunts, uncles, and everyone who takes care of the kids,” said West.

West extended her appreciation to Dr. Lee and the Chongs. “It takes a village,” said West. “Thank you for being a part of this community, for giving in this community, and for trusting United Way to work with our partners to get this done.”

Representatives from various local charities and churches were in attendance, including LINK of Hampton Roads, The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Grove Christian Outreach Center, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, and more. Partner agencies work in tandem with the UWVA to address the area’s complex issues surrounding poverty by providing programs and services necessary to lift individuals and families in need out of poverty.

Senator Monty Mason serves the Virginia Peninsula’s 1st Senate District, which includes the City of Williamsburg and portions of James City County, Newport News, Hampton, York County, and Suffolk. Elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2013 and the State Senate in a special election in 2016, Mason has worked to improve the child welfare and foster care systems.

UWVP serves members of the community who reside in Gloucester, Hampton, James City County, Mathews, New Kent, Newport News, Poquoson, Williamsburg, and York County.

For more information about UWVP, visit its website.

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