25 years ago, it all started with an idea to create a support group such that families with special needs children can share ideas, create friendships, and offer support to one another. The group quickly expanded to include other members of the community such as youth volunteers and people who want to support special needs individuals. The dream all along has been to work together to build an integrated community for our special needs? children. Today, FCSN has flourished into a leading organization with over 1,000 member families, providing programs and services to the special needs community in the Bay Area and beyond.
FCSN 25th Anniversary Special: Q&A With the Co-founders is a five part series. Several members of FCSN’s founding families who have led the organization over the years share their thoughts on how they started FCSN from the very beginning, the process of building FCSN into what it is today, and their dreams on how they would like FCSN to evolve in the future.
What was the original goal of founding this organization?
by: Shiow-Luan Chen, Linmei & Jim Chiao, Anna & Albert Wang
Shiow talking during our New Year celebration at APFRC (Asian Pacific Family Resource Center) in San Jose, 1997
Shiow-Luan: The original idea of forming a support group was to build an entity or community for families who share the same culture and heritage, to work together and help one another , while helping children with special needs. Along every path of each individual family, we hope they gain strength with friendship and love provided by other families. And when our children grow older, we’ll be able to help more younger families!
Linmei talking to parents during our New Year celebration event at APFRC in San Jose, 1997
Linmei: Raising a special needs child can be quite challenging and frustrating at times. Parents worry a lot. But we are not alone and don’t have to struggle alone. Our goal, from day one, was to build a friendly, loving community where our special needs children can feel safe, live an active integrated life, and be as great and as happy as they can be. We also want the community to get to know our special needs children, and feel good interacting with them.
Anna teaching a class at a family gathering at APFRC in San Jose, 1997
Anna: Our Dream is to bring happiness to individuals with special needs and to bring peace of mind to their families. Our biggest worry is our children’s well-being once we are gone. The founding families determined that the solution to our worries was to establish a village for our special needs loved ones where they can receive life-long support. Our mission is to help the children with special needs and their families find love, hope, respect and support through integrated community involvement.
Albert attending FCSN’s first family picnic at Linda Vista Park in Cupertino, 1996
Albert: To provide love, hope, and support for Chinese American families with special needs children with language and culturally appropriate support. To build a village so parents are not fearful of leaving their disabled children behind with no one to love and care for them once parents are not able to. Build “cradle to grave” support for those with special needs.
Jim working as a security guard at a family gathering at APFRC in San Jose, 1997
Jim: The original goal was to form a family support group. Shiow’s initial idea was to organize families with special needs. Linmei expanded it to include other families to form an integrated community. The two of them organized the first meeting to launch the idea to 20+ families in April 1996. A core group of ten families bounded together and FCSN was born. . Our mission has remained the same as we had defined it in 1996: to help children (individuals) with special needs and their families find love, hope, respect, and support through integrated community involvement.