With causes ranging from hearing aids for hearing impaired children to therapy dogs and dental care for the elderly, the Amcham Charitable Foundation and the American Women’s Association awarded nearly HK$290,000 to nice deserving charities this year

By Queenie Tsui

Once again in 2015, the AmCham Charitable Foundation has partnered with the American Women’s Association (AWA) in their annual program to support smaller and lesser known charities and provide financial assistance for projects helping children, elderly and disadvantaged people with health and special needs.

In his opening remarks given at the Awards Tea on June 5, 2015, US Deputy Consul General Tom Cooney emphasized the importance of the event.

You really feel the event is a celebration of partnerships – partnerships between several of the organizations, which are the pillars of Hong Kong,” Cooney said.

For almost a decade, this partnership has become a tradition of the three American Bodies in Hong Kong to support organizations that provide important services in our community. Each year, AWA accepts grant proposals and undergoes a review process to identify suitable and credible charities.

“We realized that there were so many charities in Hong Kong that the AWA is able to find and vet much better than what the Chamber can do by itself. Then we get a list of potential recipients of the money and we scrutinize it very carefully to determine where the money can best be used,” said James E. Thompson, AmCham Charitable Foundation Trustee and Chairman of the Crown Worldwide Group.

Celebrating the Spirit

James E. Thompson, AmCham Charitable Foundation Trustee and Chairman of Crown Worldwide Group, Deborah Yu Cooney, Honorary AWA President and Tom Cooney, US Deputy Consul General
James E. Thompson, AmCham Charitable Foundation Trustee and Chairman of Crown Worldwide Group, Deborah Yu Cooney, Honorary AWA President and Tom Cooney, US Deputy Consul General

With more than 90 passionate members of the community gathered at what was consensually considered as their favorite event of the year, the philanthropic spirit was flourishing at the residence of the US Consul General Clifford Hart.

“[Helping others] is really a fulfilling thing… For the people in this room and many others who have been lucky in their lives with lots of good things, we realized that many people out there are less fortunate, circumstances have not been good for them and we can help them,” Thompson said.

Many of the award recipients were appreciative of the help.

“We need your genuine heart, tender love, powerful strength and unselfish intentions to help us serve the poorest, the sick, the abandoned, the homeless, the unloved, the wounded, the hungry and the thirsty,” said Sunny Mak, Founder of Sunshine Action.

Bringing Positive Impact

Photo13“Ms. Lee moved to Hong Kong from Mainland China four years ago. With a husband who was always occupied at work, she took up the childcare responsibility for their two daughters. It was reported that Ms. Lee spanked and pinched her elder daughter’s face because she didn’t follow Ms. Lee’s instructions. She scolded her daughter for being stupid, but felt sorry and unhappy afterwards.”

This is a true story shared by Dr. Jessica Ho, Director Against Child Abuse (ACA), at a press conference. The organization subsequently provided sessions of counseling and support to Ms. Lee on positive parenting methodologies. The mother came to a realization that corporal punishment would have a negative impact on the parent-child relationship, thus putting an end to her abusive parenting style.

“The most touching moment in our work is to see positive change in children and families we work with. Ms. Lee is very grateful for all the support from ACA and she appeals to parents who are in a similar situation to seek help,” Dr. ho added.

Against Child Abuse is one of several NGOs awarded at the event that place much emphasis on children, migrant women and the elderly.

With a mission to change the lives of hearing impaired children with early education and training, Suen Mei speech and Learning Center believes that the language potential of these children can be developed through the use of their residual hearing.

“For some students with bilateral profound hearing impairment, even the most powerful hearing aids are of very little or no benefit to them,” said Director Bessie Pang. “They need a cochlear implant, but batteries are very expensive for families with great financial difficulties. We are very grateful for the AWA funds in supporting our battery project.”

Parents and volunteers from The Children’s Institute (TCI) values individual differences with great tenacity to serve each and every student with special education needs.

“All students have strengths and weaknesses. The teachers find them for each student, hold on, and never let go,” said Dr. Jeremy Greenberg, Director of TCI.

Project Concern Hong Kong provides free dental care services to elderly people living in residential care homes in Sham Shui Po and Tung Chung. Babe Chan, the organization’s Executive Director, shared an experience that speaks of the need for the constant care for the elderly. “

During a visit to a residential care home, we found a set of denture that was removed from the resident’s mouth which was abnormally black. The resident had not cleaned his teeth for a couple of years,” said Chan.

“Older people receiving residential care services are fragile and incapable of taking care of themselves, including their oral health. Professional oral health care for the elder and training to caregivers are very important for the elderly.”

Besides medical professionals, animals can help people in need as well. Animals Asia takes great delight in seeing patients respond positively to the unconditional love and affection they receive from their therapy dogs.

Jill Robinson MBE found the animal-assisted therapeutic organization in Asia when she and her golden retriever Max visited a paraplegic boy in Hong Kong in 1991. “I don’t think that any of the staff were prepared for the children’s reactions. It was amazing. Max succeeded where other attempts had failed in bringing out reclusive patients,” said Robinson.

Scientific research has shown that therapy dogs provide friendship, entertainment, affection and sensory stimulation, offering a unique type of therapy. They are a major source of support to people with depression, autism, dementia and those facing chronic or terminal illnesses.

Apart from its canine therapy, Animals Asia is active in advocating animal rights such as ending bear bile farming, cats and dogs welfare as well as captive animal welfare.

“We hope that through our continued public education and campaigning, individuals can be given the knowledge and tools to make appropriate and conscious choices in regards to animals and their welfare,” Karina O’Carroll, Animal Welfare Education Manager, said.

Founded in 1985, the AmCham Charitable Foundation is governed by the Board of Trustees composed of AmCham Past Chairmen residing in Hong Kong with a mission to contribute to educational, training and other charitable projects in Hong Kong. This is made possible through donations from AmCham members at various fundraising events such as the AmCham Ball and the Charitable Foundation Dinner. The Board of Trustees met in May this year to review the list of charities and approved a donation of close to HK$290,000 to support nine charities.


Against Child Abuse Limited

Photo14Against Child Abuse provides remedial and preventive protection programs to tens of thousands of children, youths and families with a mission to remove all forms of child abuse and neglect in Hong Kong. The charity will be funded to organize talks, workshops and camps for low-income families or working parents in the New Territories to learn about positive child management.


Animals Asia 

Photo15Animals Asia is devoted to animal rights and promoting ending the practice of bear bile farming, and is the only organization with a bear sanctuary in China as a part of ongoing bear-rescuing mission. The grant will provide for the delivery of animal-assisted therapy program ‘Dr. Dog’ to individuals in senior homes, hospitals and children with disabilities.


The Child Development Centre

Photo16CDC was found in 1976 to provide early intervention program for children with special educational needs (SEN) and act as a resource center for the community. The grant will be spent on the purchase of testing materials that accommodate 200-250 children. The tests are critical in identifying learning issues.



Project Concern Hong Kong 

Photo17Project Concern runs dental clinics and mobile dental buses with registered dentists to provide curative, preventive and restorative dental treatments to the public. The grant will directly benefit closer to 45,000 patients (2,000 per year) by financing the purchase of 2 dental mixing machines and its accessories for prosthetic treatment at one of its dental clinic.



Photo18Project Concern runs dental clinics and mobile dental buses with registered dentists to provide curative, preventive and restorative dental treatments to the public. The grant will directly benefit closer to 45,000 patients (2,000 per year) by financing the purchase of 2 dental mixing machines and its accessories for prosthetic treatment at one of its dental clinic.



The Children’s Institute of Hong Kong 

Photo19TCI was founded in 2003 by the parents of two children with special education needs. Through its individualized instructions and partnership with parents and families, the Institute aims to maximize children’s potential during their education process, offering every child an opportunity to enjoy an independent life as a functioning member of society. The grant is for the purchase of durable and child-friendly chairs and desks for a safe learning environment.



The Springboard Project

Photo20For over two decades, the Springboard Project has supported children and young people with mild to moderate learning difficulties in programs that will enable them to learn and refine social skills, practice life skills outside schools and receive other therapeutic interventions. The fund will enable the organization to purchase iPads, essential for personalized learning for children.



Suen Mei Speech and Hearing Centre

Photo21Suen Mei is devoted to developing the language potential of hearing impaired children through the provision of immediate hearing tests and intensive language programs from an early age. With an emphasis on early education and amplification, the organization also offers programs in language acquisition, cognitive development, parent guidance, and ultimately a systematic integration into ordinary schools. The grant will finance the purchase of Cochlear implant batteries for teenagers from unprivileged families.


Sunshine Action

Photo22Founded in 2008, Sunshine Action aims to provide food and medicines to needy families in the poorest areas in Hong Kong, China and Southeast Asia. By providing rice, packed food, stationeries, medicines, daily products and toiletries, it has helped 98,313 low-income families (approximately 169,724 individuals) directly. Its medical service has reached out to thousands of patients and successfully completed operations for 33 patients with congenital heart disease. The grant will help finance the purchase of food to be distributed to street sleepers in Sham Shui Po.