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Building Communities By Kim Tsui

he Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC) is a committed organization with a mission to serve the Asian American community of Greater Boston with high standards of performance and integrity. ACDC began in the mid 1980s, when Boston’s Chinatown was in need of attention as Asian immigrants were forced out of their neighborhoods due to unaffordable housing and eminent domain. It is during this crisis that a group of community leaders took action and started ACDC on May 27, 1987, with a vision to preserve Chinatown and empower residents to gain back control of their local communities. ACDC recently celebrated its 20th year in existence, and one of the many noteworthy aspects of this organization is their commitment to helping thousands of families into affordable housing.

Programs Overview Affordable Housing Development works with public and private developers and the community to build a common vision for land use that will meet the needs of its residents, and help preserve and revitalize Boston’s Chinatown. The organization has countless accomplishments including an 88-unit mixed income residential project, Oak Terrace Apartments, completed in 1994 and now home to more than 300 residents and local businesses. Another astounding success is the completion of The Metropolitan, a 251-unit, mixed-use mixed-income development, now occupied with over 800 residents. Furthermore, an ongoing project, Parcel 24, is a development that will offer approximately 300 units of mixed-income housing. This project consists of support among the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, Boston Redevelopment Authority, local community leaders and residents. Parcel 24 was part of the Chinatown neighborhood back in the 1960s before the Turnpike extension.

The Comprehensive Home Ownership Program (CHOP) offers multilingual classes where many first time home buyers learn about finance options and the home buying process. ACDC invites community professionals such as mortgage brokers, attorneys, real estate agents, and home inspectors to teach the classes; 350 potential home owners have graduated to date.


Asian Voices of Organized Youth for Community Empowerment (A-VOYCE) is a program with a mission to develop the leadership potential of low income Asian American youth by giving them the confidence, knowledge, skills, and technical know-how to share their views with the world via a weekly youth-produced radio show and youth-led historical walking tours.

Linguistic Access is about to launch Speakeasy, a telephone-based system that will provide easily accessible interpretation services. This program aims to break language barriers that hinder non-English speaking individuals with ordinary daily tasks like asking a pharmacist for instructions on a particular prescription.

Small Business Technical Service focuses on strategically helping small business owners find a niche and pursue any aspirations. A great example is Parcel 24, which has a high demand in hiring contractors and other specialized professions, which in turn offers numerous opportunities for small businesses in the community. ACDC has gained community-wide support through volunteer opportunities, donations and fundraisers to help finance their numerous programs. There are three major events that raise money to help support this non-profit organization. One is the annual Comedy Night at Hong Kong Restaurant in Harvard Square. This event successfully raised $25,000 last year. Another popular occasion is the Films at The Gate Series, which offers five straight nights of classic Kung-Fu films on Hudson Street. Lastly is the Asian Golf Tournament, which raised an outstanding $45,000 last year to benefit the affordable housing department. With a five-year strategic plan in place, ACDC hopes to broaden its development focus to nearby communities such as Lynn, where a significant Cambodian community resides. Lynn offers substantial growth potential and nonprofit affordable housing is a pressing need. ACDC aims to build a larger coalition by expanding into other Asian communities to better align with its regional model. Special thanks to Mary Fuller of ACDC for this interview. For more information on programs and upcoming events, please contact ACDC at or by calling 617-482-2380

SAVING529 FOR COLLEGE? Saving for Plans Can College? Help By Michael C. Tow, Certified Financial Planner, New Boston Financial


h, the joys of parenthood! Ugh, the costs of parenthood! Saving enough to pay the tuition bills when they land on thez doorstep may be one of your biggest financial challenges. According to the College Board, four years of tuition, room and board runs about $120,000 for a private college. But don’t panic. There’s a way to channel a significant amount of money into a college savings account while receiving the benefit of professional investment management with your child’s college dates in mind. Earnings and withdrawals will be tax-free as long as the money is used to pay qualified higher education expenses. Here’s how to get started on the road to college savings.

Choose a plan Search for a plan that offers solid investment choices and is managed by a nationally

recognized investment company. Most companies charge an account fee. Expense ratios and other fees can add up. Be sure to ask about them.

Open an account There are no eligibility requirements. You can open an account for your child, your grandchild or any child regardless of family ties. Most plans allow contributions as low as $25 a month. Maximum contribution limits range between $200,000 and $300,000.

Select an investment option Because the savings window for college is smaller than for retirement, most plans are built around age-based portfolios. They weigh investments more aggressively for children in their early years and become more conservative as the college deadline approaches. Thanks to the new tax law, you can even roll over from one 529 plan to another.

Contribute regularly and encourag e others to add to your child’s savings Grandparents, for example can direct up to $60,000 in one lump sum ($120,000 for a couple) to any child’s account without triggering a federal gift tax. A maximum contribution counts against an individual’s $12,000 annual gift exclusion for five years, so another tax-free gift cannot be made to that child for six years. To decide whether a 529-college savings plan is right for your family, as well as which plan offers you the best combination of features, talk to a certified financial planner. College savings plans are complex so don’t be shy about asking for help.

STARTINGa A Business BUSINESS Starting Richard writes: “I am ready to start my new business. Where do I begin?” By Russell L. Chin, Esq.


ichard, you should first think about how your business will be affected by legal, financial, insurance, and other issues. If you’re not sure about the next step, then obtain professional advice at the outset. A business lawyer can help navigate these waters. The way you establish your business will depend on many factors, including how many owners/members or shareholders are involved and whether you have outside investors. What will the legal relationship be among the investors, owners and the company? What are the liabilities associated with this kind of business? Will you be negotiating a commercial lease? In many instances, it makes sense to establish a separate legal en-

tity such as a corporation or limited liability company (LLC) in order to protect the owner from personal liability. An LLC can be operated like a partnership but have the tax benefit and reduced liability of a corporation. LLCs are becoming increasingly popular and are similar to a Subchapter S corporation in which company profits will “flow through” to the individual, limiting the need to pay corporate taxes on profits in addition to personal income taxes. Both the LLC and corporation can provide protection from personal liability. The LLC may be easier to structure and offer more flexibility than a corporation.

the LLC and “Both corporation can

provide protection from personal liability.


The business lawyer will help determine if you have adequate capital to fund the start-up or need outside funding; many new businesses fail due to inadequate capitalization. Some questions to consider include: What are your finance terms and are they manageable based on cash flow projections? Should you lease or purchase equipment? Have you considered the tax implications of each? Would your company benefit from the establishment of a new banking relationship? After discussing these issues and reviewing your business plan, your lawyer should provide advice on each point. Be sure that you have appropriate levels of insurance coverage in place for general liability and risk pertinent to your business. To conclude, a careful review of all issues before starting your business will help avoid potential problems down the road and allow room to focus on achieving your goals and making money.

Please send your legal questions to Fall 2007


CARALARM SYSTEMS of Dorchester, MA Photography: Lokagroup


By Julie T. Pham

Making Driving Enjoyable



icture yourself driving a modest car with nothing more than the standard features. Now, modify that image with an Eclipse CD7100 stereo system with a 24-bit DSP and an iPod adapter. Let’s add a portable Alpine Blackbird – NAV system with rear seat DVD screens, and then top that off with some chrome performance wheels. Then secure your newly souped-up car with the most reliable car alarm system available. Wouldn’t that be the ideal ride? Well, that’s been a key focus of Car Alarm Systems of Dorchester, MA, for the past 14 years. It all started with Nam Trinh (founder and owner) and his hobby of fixing cars. The Vietnam born and oldest of five boys arrived in the U.S. as a teenager; hence, it was difficult for him to assimilate into the American culture. Often seen as an outsider, 1

Nam concentrated on school (one of his favorite subjects was science) and worked hard to provide for his family. His English improved every day from his effort to learn from his teachers, books, American movies, and close friends. In addition, he picked up American lingo from coworkers and customers at a restaurant he bused for in the evenings. His diligence paid off as an adult as he brought home a sizeable income from his position as an Electronics Manager at a notable high-tech company in MA. In the late 1980s, when car modifications were on the rise, Nam joined the trend and started adding high-tech toys to his car, his siblings’ and friends’ cars. As Nam says, he enjoyed, “dressing them up with amps, subwoofers, wheels, spoilers, etc.” Eventually this after-work passion turned into an entrepreneurial venture when Nam resigned from his long-term managerial position. With the help

service, competitive pricing, and honest and friendly employees. Most customers are known by their first name and they in turn refer everyone they know to this store. “We have customers who have been coming to the store since they were kids,” Nam says with excitement. This husband and wife team built a successful business by combining their respective skills and qualities where it’s needed most. For instance, Victoria uses her presentation skills to attract quality vendors and negotiate costs, while her outgoing personality welcomes new and existing shoppers to the store. On the other hand, the hard working Nam casually informs the customers about their newly purchased item as he installs it in their vehicle. Nam’s advice for future business owners or anyone who strives for success is to, “work hard and spend time on what you love.”

of his business-savvy wife, Victoria, and supportive family, he secured a loan and opened his shop in 1993. In the early years, Nam and Victoria struggled as new business owners since they lacked experience and credentials. Victoria with a slight smile recalls, “Well known automotive companies like Eclipse and Alpine refused to let us sell their high quality products because we were so new.” Nam quickly agrees, “We sold quality but lesser known accessories and products like car alarms and remote starters.” He continues, “We didn’t have a business plan…I simply bought and sold what I could.” That simple but practical business strategy has made Car Alarm Systems one of New England’s leading retailers in the market. In addition, this place is also recognized for superior customer

Today, the store is loaded with top-notch brands of car alarm systems, keyless entries, remote starters, audio systems, DVD players, along with many other products, and yes, Alpine and Eclipse products are now sold there! Furthermore, Nam stays ahead of the fierce competition by constantly upgrading his product line and providing innovative training for his staff on new installations and developments. Consequently, Nam and Victoria attend the consumer electronics convention in Las Vegas annually for a sneak peek of what’s to come in the mobile entertainment world. In fact, Nam just revealed that DirecTV is one of the newer features coming soon to a car near you. Ahhh…more futuristic playthings for your modest car…oh, the wonders of technology. Happy driving! Fall 2007


"%7!2%/&! .%7).6%34-%.43#!Investment Scam! Remember, only official government web sites are allowed to use “.gov” in their URL. If you see a “-gov” or “”, it’s a good bet that the site is not legitimate. By Prinya Sommala, Connector Life Financial


f you receive a stock pitch that ends with the salesperson sending you to a “government” regulator’s web site, beware. This is often the first clue that the deal may be a scam, according to the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD). The NASD has received calls and complaints–so far, mainly from international investors–who have been sent to an “official” site that turns out to be fake. The latest ploy involves sites that use “” in the URL to resemble official government web sites typically used outside the United States. For example, the Australian Securities & Investments Commission’s web site is In the United States, all federal agency web sites end with “.gov” – not “-gov” or “” NASD is currently aware of at least three sites that are using this latest trick:


s s s

Central Registry Regulators: Claims it “administers and enforces the federal securities laws in order to protect investors and to maintain fair, honest, and efficient markets.” National Mergers and Acquisitions Board: Claims “to oversee, administer and enforce the federal securities laws relating to corporate Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A).” Board of Commissioners of Mergers & Acquisitions: Also claims “to oversee, administer and enforce the federal securities laws relating to corporate Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A).”

The phony sites that often use ‘cookies’ to track visitors and gather information, look real and contain a great deal of investor information that is often stolen from the sites of legitimate regulators. The sites are just one of the many strategies used in fee scams that try to get investors to send money in advance of any service rendered. If you wish to consider adding an international component to your present portfolio, or are interested in learning more about investing internationally, give your financial professional a call. They can discuss all of the issues related to investing internationally and can offer suggestions on professional money managers that specialize in this category.

Fall 2007


Celebrate the Season at BCAE! Saturday, November 10

Begins Wednesday, November 28

Friday, November 30

Begins Saturday, December 1

Tuesday, December 11

Saturday, December 15


Connecting Cultures



By Maravanna Chan


hen we think of massage therapy, the first thought is relaxation and relief from stress. What about a massage that can achieve that and also relieve chronic pain and injuries? This technique is known as Acupressure (Therapeutic Massage & Tui Na). Acupressure uses the same concept as deep tissue massage, but instead of utilizing the effleurage touch (light pressure applied over a wide area of the body), the massage therapist focuses on pressure points, similarly used by the acupuncture formula. Dr. Frank Meng specializes in Acupressure, and has been practicing for 25 years; 20 years in China and most recently here in the US. He believes this 2000 year old technique should be acknowledged here in America. People go through considerable chiropractic, physical therapy and pain clinic care to attempt to rid their pain, but unfortunately,

the western world is not exposed to certain pain relief benefits that eastern medicine may provide. In the past, many people who had gone to see Dr. Meng actually went as a last resort, and were at first very skeptical. The majority of those skeptics became loyal clients, and also followed him from Watertown to his new office in Wellesley. “Frank is the first person to ever figure out my pain without having to tell him,” states one of his patients. Mainstream America may not recognize Acupressure as an effective treatment as yet, but this is changing via word-of-mouth by satisfied patients. The all natural and safe method of Acupressure will ensure newcomers that there is nothing to be apprehensive about, and more importantly, nothing to lose.

Dr. Frank Meng 14 Mica Lane, Suite #10 Wellesley, MA Office: 781-235-6638 Mobile: 617-201-8679 Photography: Lokagroup


NEEDS By Anna Tsui

Photography: Charles Daniels

Dr. Wu

Chinatown: 617-338-9889 Quincy: 617-786-8899



eople don’t think I’m a doctor, because I don’t wear glasses,” jokes Dr. Wu, whose athletic build and youthful vitality has surprised many patients. His love of physical fitness and mental health is something that he passes on to his patients, the oldest being 113 years old. As a well-respected physician with offices in Boston and Quincy, Dr. Wu has a long list of mostly Asian patients who find comfort in his understanding of their specific needs, and his ability to diagnose and treat ailments that western doctors often overlook. For example, for some anti-hypertension medications, Asians are 70% more likely to have drug-related side effects (like dry cough) versus 3% for non-Asians. The “normal” dosage of drugs, which is based on Caucasian body types, is usually too much for Asian body types. Another surprising fact, according to Dr. Wu, is that Asians have a higher chance of getting diabetes and hypertension than other racial groups. Despite generally healthy diets, their busy schedules and long stressful work hours deceive many into believing they are getting enough exercise. Dr. Wu states, “When I tell a restaurant worker that he needs more exercise, he looks at me and says, ‘I work 10-12 hours a day, how can that not be enough?’ In fact, working in a restau-

rant is not meaningful exercise; the healthy alternative is cardio exercise, which increases your heart rate to a point where you start sweating and even get out of breath.” After graduating from Guangzhou Medical College in China (1983), Dr. Wu became a teacher of Microbiology and Immunology. He immigrated to the US in 1986, where he taught himself enough English to become licensed in acupuncture, become an insurance agent and pass the medical board exam for foreign graduates in 1990. He was accepted into the Residency Program at Cornell Medical School in New York as one of the few Asian doctors, and was the only one from mainland China in the program. These are remarkable feats even for someone who speaks four languages; Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese and English (the latter two he taught himself), and was captain of his college swim team and a Chinese Chess champion. Dr. Wu also served as chair of his medical school alumni association and chair of the New England Chapter of the Association of Chinese American Physicians.

Fall 2007



hat is a Cosmetic Surgeon? Is it someone who has completed a residency in Cosmetic Surgery? Is it a Board Certified Surgeon who has a certificate that authenticates their training in Cosmetic Surgery? The answer to these questions is surprisingly…no. Any surgeon can call themselves a “Cosmetic Surgeon.” In fact, physicians who are not even fully trained in surgery can use this term. So what should someone who is interested in a cosmetic procedure do? Your homework! Many qualified doctors can perform cosmetic procedures for you. One such physician is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. The American Board of Plastic Surgery is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties ( as one specialty whose training includes a significant amount of dedication to the field of Cosmetic Surgery. Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT or Otolaryngology) is another specialty that is recognized by the ABMS to perform cosmetic procedures of the head and neck. You should feel comfortable and confident in your surgeon. He or she should ask thorough questions about your health and any

previous surgical experiences. This is known as a History and Physical. Your surgeon should ask questions like, “What would you like the surgery to achieve?” and “How do you think the surgery will change your life?” Any good surgeon will want to get to know you and learn about your motivations for having surgery. After all, cosmetic surgery is elective surgery and first and foremost must be safely performed. So, what is your responsibility as a patient? You should check the background of your doctor. One way is to check with your state’s Medical Board, another is to check their qualifications with their Specialty Medical Board. In addition, you should ask the surgeon questions, for example: “How many of these procedures have you performed?” “What is the average length of recovery?” “What are some common complications that might occur?” and “Where will my procedure be performed, in a hospital or an office?” Remember the expression, ‘Caveat Emptor’ or ‘Buyer Beware’? If you follow these suggestions, you should be able to find a good surgeon and have a successful operation. Dr Ko is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.


SURGERY 101 By Albert Ko, MD

Photography: Charles Daniels



Fall 2007


Photography: Kara Delahunt

THE ASIAN AMERICAN COMMISSION “The goal of the AAC is to be a conduit for people in power to push for change.”


t was an historical day at the Grand Staircase in the State House on February 21, 2007, as the 21 Commissioners of the newly formed Asian American Commission (AAC) were sworn in. The meaning of the ceremony was elevated as all five constitutional officers who supported the commission – Governor Deval Patrick, Secretary of State William Galvin, Treasurer Timothy Cahill, Attorney General Martha Coakly, and State Auditor Joseph DeNucci – all made appearances. The day indicated that the new AAC was now completely independent of the Governor’s Office, a significance that will guarantee longevity for years to come regardless of change in power at the Executive level. The origin of the AAC dates back about 16 years when Governor William Weld was in office. Weld had issued an executive order for the creation of the state’s first AAC, but its burgeoning start did not pick up enough momentum for a full-fledged commission. When Weld left office, the commission was left inactive over the years. However, the vision of having an active and functioning government body representing the Asian American community did not fade away. Governor Weld’s commissioners such as Kija Kim, Paul Lee, Atsuko Fish, and Seung Choi, began pushing for the organization of a new AAC, but this time, they wanted to create it 1

legislatively so it would become an independent and permanent entity. The process that brought the new AAC into fruition is truly the work of determined individuals who generated support to create a representative body for the Asian American community. One of the key figures in strategizing the AAC was the Commission’s Interim Executive Director, Grace Lee. As the Deputy Treasurer and the highest ranking appointed Asian American in state government, Lee was at the forefront in providing logistical support and also getting Treasurer Cahill involved. Tackey Chan, former Legislative Director for Senator Michael Morrissey, and now the AAC’s Vice Chairman, took a major step in drafting the bill and moving it through the various stages. The bill, which was sponsored by Senator Morrissey, was voted on and passed by the legislature in 2006. When Governor Romney vetoed it, the organizers took the time to rally support, and the legislature was able to override it overwhelmingly. The lawfully created AAC went through two major events that helped set it in motion. One was the Unity Gala held in May, which brought in $50,000. The commission, unlike any other state agency, was given unprecedented permission to generate its own fundraising money. Another event that helped organize the AAC’s structure was a retreat held at

UMass Boston. The Commissioners convened and defined priorities, formed subcommittees and voted on an Executive Committee. Treasurer Cahill then appointed Leverett Wing as the Executive Director. He was an aide to former Senate President Thomas Birmingham, a community activist in Chinatown, and most recently, one of Governor Patrick’s 15-member Transition Team. The AAC, although at its developmental stage, has a vision for the Asian American community. Massachusetts has 15 major Asian communities with Chinese, Indian, Filipino, and Vietnamese being the largest, and the AAC wants to be a portal connecting different ethnicities and advocate issues such as housing, education, health care, and business development. Kao Li, a co-commissioner from Weymouth, envisions the AAC to be a clearinghouse for information, as well as a vehicle for civic participation and a catalyst for change in politics. “The goal of the AAC is to be a conduit for people in power to push for change,” Li says. “If we are able to communicate, get involved, and ask people to register to vote, then we can have an impact on policy.” With the AAC as a bridge connecting Asian Americans and government, many positive changes are on the horizon for the community to embrace. Article by Christy Lee

Fall 2007


Ted Woo

To Serve & Protect By Leslie Kilgore

Photography: Lokagroup


afety comes first for Ted Woo, a Boston local and Chief of Public Affairs for the Boston branch of the Customs & Border Protection (CBP) agency. Ted Woo has come a long way from his days as a boy growing up in West Roxbury and Boston’s Chinatown… a very long way. A graduate of Boston Latin School in 1974 and Northeastern University, Woo, like many Asian immigrants in the Northeast, was raised in a household filled with love, support, and a father who expected nothing but the best. “Growing up, Chinatown was an extremely close-knit community. But it also had a lot of problems that don’t exist today, including gangs and turf battles.” He continues, “There were fights, sticks, stones—it was a tough place to be a kid. I wouldn’t have ended up where I am today without my father.” Woo, a criminal justice major, is now the head of public affairs for the CBP in New England. “I was the first person in customs at Logan Airport to ever find drugs concealed internally, and basically made a procedure for taking passengers to the hospital for internal searches,” Woo maintains. “I was determined to find drugs—it must have been all of those cop shows I used to watch!” With a 30-plus year career in the US Customs department that started with his Co-op at Northeastern, Woo has seen things most citizens can’t even imagine. “I actually once caught a guy smuggling something under his sweat suit and fur coat. I thought it was drugs and searched him, only to find his mother’s sausages! Not one of my biggest successes.” However, Woo’s had many more successes than failures. He eventually moved up in the ranks to Chief Inspector at Logan in 1999 and held that title for several years, including

that dreadful day: September 11. “It was a difficult time,” Woo emphasizes. “To keep morale up with my personnel, while maintaining organization for travelers, was a challenge every day.” He says there are often misconceptions about the role of customs in America, mistaking CBP with the security at airports. “We aren’t responsible for what is allowed on planes, that’s TSA–the Transportation Security Administration. We only check what comes into the country.” His new position allows him the opportunity to educate people on what CBP actually does. Through school programs, demonstrations with drug dogs, literature and information on border protection; Woo provides the public with accurate knowledge on the importance of customs and border regulations. “Our mission right now is to prevent terrorism and weapons of terror from entering the country. The job has increased immensely since 9/11.” He says the biggest challenge now is to balance risk assessment while facilitating trade. With the importance of trade to the U.S. economy, and security being at its tightest, it’s a daily struggle for CBP: safety versus productivity. There are more than 300 ports of entry in the United States alone, processing cargo from around the world. CBP now has officers in almost every country implementing checks on all cargo before it even arrives in the U.S. “Many people don’t realize that there are a lot of countries working with us to ensure terrorists do not come to the U.S.” Woo continues, “The technology has changed drastically. There are now non-invasive ways to check for weapons of terror and radiation, in which many people don’t even know about.” As a busy man with an extremely

“Many people don’t realize that there are a lot of countries working with us to ensure terrorists do not come to the U.S.


demanding schedule, Woo has a lot weighing on his shoulders these days. But his positive outlook, confidence in CBP and his devotion to ensuring America’s safety remains constant. “It’s a really challenging job. I can’t be in two places at once. But it’s a great job if you like something very different every single day.” Please visit:

Fall 2007

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Asian Boston Issue 4  

Issue 4 (Asian Boston Magazine)

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