Last night was SEAMAAC’s 33rd Annual Board Meeting and Dinner at Dim Sum House. Staff, board members, and a few guests celebrated the nonprofit’s accomplishments of 2016 working with and expanding their social services programs in South Philly. My friend and I were invited as guests. The dinner began with opening remarks by Executive Director Thoai Nguyen and Board Chair Susan K. Nieto. Nieto was stepping down as director and Vice Chair David Brodsky was elected as the new Chair. Nguyen then thanked the Board for their hard work and input into SEAMAAC. He then highlighted some of SEAMAAC’s accomplishments over the past year.
In 2016, SEAMAAC phone banked over 1,100 people and successfully registered 800 new voters. The Department of Human Services rated SEAMAAC a 94 and 95 out of 100. SEAMAAC’s Truancy case managing program (for keeping students enrolled in school) expanded to more neighborhoods in Philly. The Truancy program served around 3,000 people in just 2017 so far!
Nguyen then reflected on more recent events given the current political climate.
As a community organizer you do not vote for a candidate. You vote for the environment in which you can do your work.
Under Obama, Nguyen and SEAMAAC lobbied on Capitol Hill for language accessibility to the Affordable Care Act. Now under the new administration, they are lobbying to keep the ACA. Regardless, there is always work to be done.
After Nguyen’s opening speech, the food started to come. We were treated to a delicious dinner of dim sum and Chinese food. In between bites of good food, I got to know the other staff members sitting at my table. Table assignments were random. I did not know anyone at the dinner except for 5 people, so I met a lot of new people. I learned what it’s like to work at SEAMAAC, how long they’ve worked at SEAMAAC, how they got involved with SEAMAAC, and what they like to do outside of work. I learned that there is a lot of diversity even among the staff members. There was actually a Penn grad at my table who used to visit Bryn Mawr College often to participate in medieval sword fighting with a Classics professor in Thomas Great Hall!
I would like to thank Andy Toy, Thoai Nguyen, and the rest of SEAMAAC for extending the invite and welcoming me to their dinner. Hopefully I will be able to stay in Philly after I graduate and stay involved in the community.