By Ryan Liu, FCSN volunteer and Tech Editor for the FCSN blog
FCSN Gala has always been one of the most important events in FCSN’s agenda each year. Featuring talented performers, a recap of FCSN’s great events and efforts to help the special needs community, and a chance to donate and help FCSN develop new programs and maintain current ones, the FCSN Gala is a great event to understand FCSN’s herculean efforts to help the special needs community. While this year’s FCSN Gala could not be conducted in-person, the hard work of the Gala organizers ensured that this important event could still take place. This year, FCSN gala was organized by gala committee, led by FCSN Co-chair Yee-Yeen Wang, and event co-chairs Jason Hwan and Peter Chen.
This year’s FCSN Gala featured a plethora of exciting events. Before the official Gala started, a preview was showed, consisting of video clips highlighting the resilience of volunteers and FCSN’s clients through the pandemic to always find new and innovative ways to help one another. My fellow volunteer and blog editor, Isabella He, coordinates the brilliant SNTutoring (previously Flexible Subject Virtual Tutoring) program with FCSN’s Linmei Chiao, Mannching Wang, and Yvette Ying. This program allows volunteers to tutor in any subject they feel comfortable teaching in a virtual setting and has facilitated FCSN’s consistent support of its clients. FCSN is extremely grateful to the coordinators for organizing this program and its volunteers for always putting 110% to help their students reach for the sky! Short video clips of FCSN’s Friends Coffee and Tea shop were also showed. FCSN’s Friends Coffee and Tea shop provides professional job training to special needs individuals, preparing them to succeed in any field they choose to pursue.
The Gala began at 4 pm with a short clip of the FCSN Percussion club, who’s rousing and coordinated music provided a great start to the main portion of the Gala. Then we had gala event chairs Jason Hwan and Peter Chen kicked off the event by introducing Emcee of the event, Matt Keller. After going over how to donate and support FCSN’s efforts, some highlights from the amazing FCSN Special Needs talent show, which was conducted in August, were shown.
Events like the Special Needs Talent Showcase have great impacts on everyone’s lives. Viewers get to appreciate the wide array of talents possessed by special needs individuals, and special needs individuals get to show their talents to a wide audience. Your support, whether you donate or volunteer, helps us conduct these events and even expand on the events in the future!
Next, a raffle drawing for three door prizes donated by FCSN’s community took place. The three door prizes offered in the raffle were a Chromebook, Apple watch, and Nintendo Switch. This raffle helped us bring the community together and also have fun by giving away awesome prizes.
The Gala also presented a short recap of the various learning opportunities offered by FCSN during the pandemic. FCSN offers cooking and life skills classes, lego classes, exercise classes, trivia competitions, along with COVID-19 safety training. In addition, FCSN’s wide range of technology helped us ensure that everyone had a chance to participate in classes. Your donations and support help us continue providing these awesome opportunities!
Next, Nancy Bargmann, the executive director of the Department of Developmental Services, a vital part of California’s special needs community, spoke about her experiences with FCSN and applauded FCSN’s safe but efficient response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She emphasized that FCSN’s community must remain strong through this pandemic in order to preserve FCSN’s mission and success. While the pandemic provides many restrictions, it is through the efforts of volunteers, organizers, and community that FCSN has expanded and even grown during these tough times.
FCSN’s Executive Business Director Sylvia Yeh emphasized the importance of raising funds during this event, and VP Anna Wang talked about the fundraising effort and the fundraising competition sponsored by Gannett Foundation. This year, the fundraising is extremely vital because of the unexpected challenges that FCSN faced during the pandemic. Next, Anna highlighted the winner of FCSN’s school fundraiser competition to honor the involvement of youth and young adult volunteers, who play a large role in FCSN’s success.
Next, FCSN’s Limin Hu introduced special guests: California State Assembly member Kensen Chu and Evan Low, and Fremont Mayor Lily Mei, and TECO Director General Ming-Chi Lai and Director Roy Yen. Evan Low presented FCSN with the State of California “Non-profit of the year” award which was accepted by FCSN Co-chair Jim Chiao. This award means a lot to FCSN and Jim expressed gratitude towards our staff and volunteers. Albert Wang then introduced the following speakers: SARC Exec. Director Javier Zaldivar, RCEB Exec. Director Lisa Kleinbub, Managers of State Council on Developmental Disabilities David Grady (Central Coast) and Sheraden Nicholau (Bay Area), who all highlighted the importance of supporting the Special Needs community through these tough times. We also saw a short clip from our presenting sponsor CC & Yuhling Han Foundation.
At the end of the Gala, FCSN raised over $24K at the event alone. Together with the donations from previous weeks, FCSN has reached its donation goal of $250,000 dollars! This is a great achievement and FCSN thanks everyone who donated, provided their service, or volunteered during the pandemic. You have helped FCSN maintain its dream to help the special needs community and even expand and develop its programs, even when other companies or organizations are struggling and faltering. If you missed the Gala but would still like to donate, you can use this link to do so: Friends of Children with Special Needs – Acceptiva. Thank you for your support!