The United Cambodian Community, a local group in Long Beach, California, will celebrate its 37th anniversary tomorrow.
State Sen. Ricardo Lara and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia will be among the guests for a dinner to celebrate the UCC, which provides community services to the largest enclave of Cambodians in the US.
UCC Executive Director Sara Pol-Lim said the organization was celebrating 37 years of “giving service to the community.”
“Sen. Lara and Mayor Garcia are our role models of civic leadership,” she said. “They understand the hardship of refugees and the immigrant community. They have empowered us to have voices by becoming our own advocates. We are grateful for their dedication and support.”
The UCC has over the years provided help with the resettlement of traumatized refugees and now provides health and mental health education, civics classes, and youth leadership training. It served nearly 4,000 people last year.
The event will recognize efforts by Lara to care for the mental health needs of Cambodians, many of whom suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. It will recognize Garcia for his work empowering diverse leadership in a city of many different ethnic and cultural groups.
Pol-Lim said the event is both a celebration and reminder to Cambodians that they have their “own voice through their votes.” The event will allow members of the Cambodian community to meet with officials and share with them their experience.
“We have the opportunity to tell stories of the Pol Pot regime and the war in which we lost our rights as humans and freedom when the forcibly evacuated us from our homes,” she said.
The UCC has worked since 1977 to help Cambodians overcome that trauma, supporting the first and now second generation. That means self-sufficiency training, English classes, which helps people communicate with doctors, or helps them get around the city, for example, Pol-Lim said.
The organization gives community members a chance “to be leaders in the future in the society,” she said. “Especially children who lost their parents, and the uneducated, to be good volunteers and role models for other children.”