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Mr. Chan’s Story

Charitable Care: Chinatown

Chinatown NNORC and Community Center

Mr. Chan* and his wife were worried. Their landlord had just told them that they were in violation of their lease and was threatening eviction. So, they walked down the block to VNSNY’s Chinatown Community Center at 7 Mott Street, where the Chinatown Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NNORC) office is located.

As NNORC members, the couple was educated in Cantonese on tenants’ rights and got connected to legal services and housing advocacy resources. “Now they know their rights and also know they have support,” says Chinatown NNORC case worker Charles Leung.

Besides seeking assistance on specific issues, the Chans also rely on the Chinatown NNORC to socialize, get help with government benefits, and participate in health and wellness workshops. In addition, a VNSNY NNORC case worker and registered nurse visit the couple’s fourth floor walk-up to make sure that Mr. Chan, who is 79 and in fragile health, remains stable and connected to essential resources and support.

“No matter what the issue may be—health care, benefits, housing—once people can advocate for themselves, they become more confident about their rights and are better able to stand up for their dignity,” says Charles. Thanks to the Chinatown NNORC, they can even end up helping others because of what they’ve learned and the strength they’ve gained.

Mr. Chan is a good example of this. Once a well-known singer and actor in his native Hong Kong, he has performed at birthday parties and other events in the neighborhood, as well as to raise money for his community after Hurricane Sandy—proving that for these vital VNSNY programs and their participants, empowerment is a two-way street.

* The patient’s name has been changed for privacy.

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