Asian Pacific American Society Gala
Our chapter is a corporate member of the Asian Pacific American Society (APAS), and together with other local Asian Ethnic individuals and associations, we help our local Asian American community celebrate our Asian American heritage and assist in connecting our various communities through mutual and individual events.
APAS is self-funded via individual and corporate dues and an annual fundraising event called the Gala, where funds are raised through ticket sales, a raffle, a silent auction, and a fundraising competition by each Ethnic group’s Ambassador. Attendees dress in ethnic costumes and enjoy a dinner during which each Asian Ethnic group recognizes its most outstanding community service-minded person for the year, and all the Asian Ethnic Ambassadors who serve as the major fundraiser for their Ethnic group. The winners of student scholarships are named, and Asian Ethnic entertainment is performed.
The OCAW New Orleans Chapter participated in the most recent Gala which was held on Saturday, November 11, 2023 at the Chateau Golf and Country Club in Kenner, LA. One of our new chapter members was named our Chinese Ambassador – Dr. Lily Qingli Wu, M.D.
Our chapter participated in this APAS Children’s event which was held at the Chinese Presbyterian Church in Kenner, LA, on Saturday, December 2, 2023. Children 12 and under are invited to come and play games, do individual fun activities, hear Christmas stories, listen to a local band play seasonal music, have lunch and meet with Santa Claus, and take a photo with him. Secretary Nellie Underwood’s husband David played Santa Claus at the party.
NO chapter Annual Christmas Dinner Party
Our annual Christmas dinner party was held on Saturday, December 9, 2023 in the private party room of the internationally famous Trey Yuen Restaurant in Mandeville, LA. Frank Wong along with his four brothers own this beautiful Chinese mansion restaurant.
Frank created our delicious menu and personally researched our local markets to find the best and freshest seafood, meats, vegetables, etc. for our special celebratory dinner. The menu included a choice of soup: their Super Bowl award-winning Gumbo, Hot and Sour Soup, or War Won Ton soup. The dishes included their famous smoked tea duck, Steak Kew with vegetables, Chicken and pork chow mien, and their own famous seafood-created dishes – Honey Pecan shrimp, Crawfish in lobster sauce, Alligator and vegetables, steamed fresh drum fish, Shrimp and lump crab in a cloud, and Soft shell crab in their own created sauce. Needless to say, everyone enjoyed the delicious dinner!
During the dinner, President Pat Ellzey introduced the award-winning book, Remembering Shanghai: A Memoir of Socialites, Scholars and Scoundrels. One of the authors, Claire Chao, is an OCAW Hawaii member. About a first-person flight for survival by a young, rich girl from a privileged family fleeing from Shanghai at the start of the war in the 1930s. This could provide a basis for a meaningful discussion as well. We intend to prioritize selling the rest of the books. Please contact us if interested.
APAS Annual Picnic
The New Orleans Chapter participated in the local Asian Pacific American Society’s free annual picnic where various Asian Ethnics provided a native cultural dish and the general public was invited to try these different Asian dishes. The event was held at the Chinese Presbyterian Church in Kenner, LA on Saturday, October 21, 2023.
Some of the dishes that were served is OCAW New Orleans Chapter Secretary Nellie Underwood, who cooked her mother’s famous and delicious black bean pork ribs. There was a huge crowd who attended and who didn’t leave a morsel of food left. Needless to say, everyone enjoyed the food and had a fun time!
Celebration of Women Luncheon
(from Patricia Ellzey, President)
The OCAW New Orleans Chapter held a special luncheon meeting to Celebrate Women and recruit new members on Saturday, August 5, 2023 at Young’s Garden Chinese Restaurant in Kenner, LA. The event took place from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Nine members and ten guests attended.
I opened up the meeting with a description of OCAW and its mission, and our chapter and activities, including interacting with and supporting other local Chinese and Asian organizations and their activities.
I explained why we were seeking new members, and then why we were celebrating “Women,” which was supported by the national office. I discussed how all OCAW chapters were connected, and talked about our fun national conferences (Yuling had such a good time last fall that she’s ready to go back!). I also mentioned our fun and interesting newsletter, which attendees were looking forward to receiving and reading.
I then started the brief self introductions. I talked about who I was – where I was born and raised, and my family, education, career, hobbies, etc. It was a lot of information but summarized fairly succinctly, and then everyone followed suit with a similar introduction of herself. I termed it a “Getting to Know You” (from The King and I) time. All enjoyed listening to everyone’s short but interesting stories. During our meal, the ladies enjoyed a lot of chatting and getting to know each other better.
A few of our talented guests were going to be performing a classical concert for the benefit of autistic children in a couple of weeks, so they sang some special selections a cappella to entertain us and publicize their fundraising event. The singers perform arias from operas in French, Latin, German, and Italian – and also in Mandarin.
Past President Dr. Lihua Zhang was later able to join the event after working with her patients, and she gave a Health Tips lecture along with her exercise demonstrations and question-and-answer session.
In the end, seven guests joined our chapter, three signing up for life memberships! We were pleased that we have not only new members, but also younger ones.
On Saturday, August 19, 2023, some of our talented new members performed at an event to raise funds for autistic children. These new members just joined OCAW at our luncheon on August 5.
Several of our chapter members attended this benefit to support our new members.
Asian Pacific American Society Award
(Editor’s Note: The OCAW New Orleans Chapter works collaboratively with the Asian Pacific American Society (APAS) on many events throughout the year.)
APAS was chosen to receive the monthly charity award from the New Orleans Boomtown Casino.
Annual Asian Heritage Festival
(from Patricia Ellzey, President)
The Asian Pacific American Society’s annual Asian Heritage Festival was held on Saturday, May 13, 2023 in the French Quarter in New Orleans. The OCAW New Orleans Chapter assists with the event every year, and President Pat Ellzey and Secretary Nellie Underwood represented the chapter’s involvement.
There were over twenty music, dance, kung fu, and other performances that entertained audiences throughout the festival, and the local Chinese community performed fully half of these numbers.
OCAW New Orleans Chapter President Pat Ellzey, who also sits on the APAS Board of Directors, selling parasols that can be painted to the buyer’s desire, cool water spray fans, colorful fans, and Chinese cone hats.
Mardi Gras 2023
(from Pat Ellzey)
“Laissez les bons temps roulez!”
Mardi Gras colors are purple, green, and gold, so I dressed up in the traditional colors. Purple is for justice, green is for faith, and gold represents power.
It was a nice day. The weather was great – mostly sunny with a few occasional clouds, and the temperature was primarily in the upper 70s but rose even to 80. Crowds were out in full force. People mark off their space with tarps lying on the ground, and I had never before seen so many colorful pop-up tents lining the parade routes. It was so colorful!
There are many parades that wind down these routes. The main one is along the major streets in New Orleans, and there are about three or four other routes. Luckily there are several parades, because the crowds would swell to perhaps 20 feet deep, and traffic and parking are already a nightmare, especially for the largest and most popular parades.
All the costumed and masked riders in the parades throw lots of colorful long beads to the crowds, along with cups, stuffed animals, various toys, and other items. It’s kind of a sport to catch all sorts of stuff and bring your “loot” home! People picnic all along the routes all day. There are barbeque racks cooking chicken and ribs, stoves cooking hamburgers, and so on. I even saw large pots to boil seafood – mostly crawfish and shrimp. It must have been a big chore to bring out all of the necessary water, propane tanks, and burners – lots of heavy stuff!
Such a great day! The world here was at peace, and life was grand! I love Mardi Gras because it’s such a happy time! (I must admit, though, that there are some who live here who don’t like all the noise, crowds, etc. They usually just stay inside their homes. But what a fun time they are missing!)
I couldn’t have wished for a more beautiful day. People surprised me by coming to New Orleans to celebrate! Life was good, and I felt so blessed! I wished that life everywhere was like this!
Chinese Presbyterian Church Anniversary Celebration
The Chinese Presbyterian Church in Kenner, LA, is the gathering place for many of the OCAW New Orleans Chapter events, and chapter members are active in other church activities. The church celebrated the 140th anniversary of its ministry on Sunday, November 20, 2022. Over a hundred individuals were in attendance.
Students and teachers from the local Academy of Chinese Studies sang and danced to music from ancient Chinese dynasties, and also performed Tibetan and Mongolian dances, all in costumes. Church members feel very blessed that the church has existed for so long.
The following is a link to a video that briefly tells of the church’s history:
On behalf of the Chinese Presbyterian Church which suffered extensive damage from hurricanes in 2021, Pat would like to express much gratitude for the generous contributions given to it to assist with the needed repairs and renovations.
Many thanks to the OCAW Hawaii Chapter; Queenie Chee, Secretary and Event Chair, OCAW Hawaii Chapter; and Janet Biermann, OCAW Maryland Chapter and former National Executive Director, for their donations. Pat is appreciative of their kindness, generosity, and thoughtfulness.
She is happy to report that the church has been repaired and has been able to resume all of its activities for the local community, and that contributions helped it to once again host meaningful, charitable events such as the APAS Children’s Holiday Party discussed above.
The OCAW New Orleans Chapter joined with the Asian Pacific American Society (APAS) in organizing and hosting the annual APAS Children’s Holiday Party. It was held on Saturday, December 10, 2022, in the Fellowship Hall of the Chinese Presbyterian Church in Kenner, LA.
Pat Ellzey helped coordinate the event. Nellie Underwood, OCAW New Orleans Chapter Secretary, is OCAW’s representative to APAS, as well as APAS Secretary, and Nellie was principally involved in the party. Because of the COVID pandemic, this was the first time in three years that the function was held.
This was a free event for all children, and approximately 50 participated. Several different table games were played, various crafts were made, and stories were told. Lunch and drinks were provided, and anyone could talk to Santa Claus and take pictures with him. This occasion is always a fun time.
On to 2023
(from Pat Ellzey, President)
Recent events The New Orleans Chapter had been affected by the onset of COVID, and had not been able to meet during the pandemic, especially as some members live far away. However, with the virus abating, the chapter was finally able to meet upon two occasions recently. The more recent gathering featured Dr. Lihua Zhang, former chapter president, giving a talk and demonstration on stretching and health.
OCAW 45th Anniversary Celebration – Thank you!
I know I speak for all of us out-of-towners when I say, “We appreciate all the work y’all did to make our gathering such a success!
Thank you to Christina Chang and all the committee very much for such a fun time at the celebration. Getting to meet and know our “sisters” and having such a good time together was a very happy and successful event.
We will have many good memories about our time together.
It was great for Steve Hom to share his talents. He and Karla surely filled our gathering with such wonderful music and entertainment. They were the “icing on the cake!”
Also, if ever anyone visits New Orleans, please let me know so I can take you sightseeing and we can renew our “sisterhood relationship” and continue to have good times again.
Anti-Asian Hate Rally
An Anti-Asian Hate Rally sponsored by the New Orleans Chinese Association was held on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021 at the main entrance of the New Orleans Museum of Art in the New Orleans City Park.
Many local civic leaders and lawmakers as well as the Presidents of several local Asian associations were invited to speak to support solidarity with all citizens and to speak out against racism. OCAW New Orleans Chapter President Patricia Hew Ellzey was asked to make remarks as a 4th-generation Chinese American and in her capacity as President of the OCAW New Orleans Chapter to support this vital and important effort.
This rally was certainly a “First” for New Orleans!!
The theme of the rally was “Stop Asian Hate: We’re All In This Together: Call for Action!”
Guest speakers included: Cynthia Lee Sheng, Jefferson Parish President; Abigail Hu, Benjamin Franklin High School Senior and member of Asian Youth for Civic Engagement; Dr. Wendy Jung, Tulane University Professor and Chair of the Asian Pacific American Society; Patricia Hew Ellzey, President of the Organization of Chinese American Women New Orleans Chapter; Lauren Owen, local Asian businesswoman and community organizer; Chrissy Changho Bruneau, Chair of the Asian Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Susheng Wang, Associate Professor, Tulane University; Edgar Chase, former Vice President, Dillard University, and former Chair, Metropolitan Crime Commission; Dr. Tony Hu, Interim Professor, Tulane University Association of Chinese Professors; and Dr. Hongbing Lu, President of the New Orleans Chinese Association.
The Masters of Ceremony were:
Dr. Jeffrey Kuo, M.D.
Dr. David Chen, M.D.
A large group of Asian Americans along with many of all ethnicities came and witnessed this very orderly and well-planned public protest.
The following is a link to a CBS TV video news report on the rally:
Asian Heritage Festivals
The OCAW New Orleans Chapter participates in the annual Asian Heritage Festival, organized by the Asian Pacific American Society. It is held in the spring at the Audubon Park Zoo in New Orleans. The festival provides opportunities for local Asian American communities to work together to showcase aspects of their culture and customs for all to share.
The OCAW booth traditionally sponsors educational activities for young people. Examples have included making and playing the Chinese tangram puzzle game, and translating and writing names in Chinese calligraphy on Asian bookmarks. The projects aim to teach children about their Asian heritage, and encourage a sense of pride in their roots. Fortune cookies are given away.
The Festival also provides entertainment, and New Orleans Chapter members have performed Chinese and Mongolian dances to the delight of the audience.
Senior Citizen Community Support
Members of the OCAW New Orleans Chapter, in conjunction with other individuals in the community, participate in a dance troupe called the “Silver Liners.” They are a group of line dancers who perform at New Orleans area senior living centers, nursing homes, and healthcare centers to bring some fun and joy into elderly residents’ lives. They adapt their dances to the music that was popular when the patients were young. Some residents will sing along. As the program progresses, the Silver Liners ask the staff and caretakers to join them in the dancing, and they encourage patients to do hand motions with them. For holidays, they adapt some of their songs to seasonal music, and they dress in holiday themes. They also spend time visiting with the residents.
The Silver Liners have been credited in the media with providing enjoyable times to the city’s senior population.