By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
To the beat of drums and accompanied by a dancing dragon, hundreds joined the Chinese-American Planning Council's annual Walk-A-Thon and Family Day celebration on Sunday morning, making a long trek that for some extended beyond the Brooklyn Bridge walkway.
Participants ranged from children in I.S. 220’s Beacon after-school program to 86-year-old Yan Lu, who came all the way from Columbus Park in Manhattan with energy to spare.
Supporters gathered at Cadman Plaza Park in Downtown Brooklyn to support the council's programs which service 8,000 people daily in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, said Chester Lee, head of CPC’s board.
“We host social services for all ages — seniors, adults and youth — and day care programs,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle. “CPC has a huge home attendant program for seniors, one of the biggest in the city. Mainly, we provide access to government programs and help people help themselves to get in the mainstream of American life.”
Borough President Marty Markowitz, also a member of the CPC board, said, “By 2020 Brooklyn will have the largest Chinese-American population on the Eastern Seaboard, and second only to San Francisco. These new upper- and middle-class New Yorkers and Americans are scoring the highest in education and have a high birth rate.” He said that Americans should follow Chinese-America’s example in scholarship and diet.
Councilmember Leticia James told the Brooklyn Eagle that Chinese-Americans have made “a dramatic impact on the demographics of areas like Bay Ridge and Sheepshead Bay.”
She applauded CPC for “providing wrap-around services — safety programs, food pantries, food stamp information, after-school programs, English lessons.
“CPC is culturally sensitive, that’s key. They transcend issues of trust — I now have 2,000 good friends.” James said that when Asian-Americans in her district were getting mugged, she arranged for CPC and Asian-American police to get involved, as well as Chinese-speaking translators.
According to New York City Department of Health, in 2006 Southwest Brooklyn, which includes Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst, had a higher proportion of Asians (15 percent and growing) than Brooklyn overall (7 percent). In New York City as a whole, roughly 10 percent of residents were Asian in 2006.
Other representatives present included Grand Marshal Councilmember Margaret Chin, Councilman Peter Koo, and Executive Director David Chen. After the Brooklyn celebration wound up, the marchers headed back to Manhattan for more festivities.