A message from AAFE Co-Executive Directors Jennifer Sun and Thomas Yu:
As you have no doubt heard, there is now a ban in effect on all public gatherings exceeding 500 people in New York State. To avoid putting our guests and staff at risk unnecessarily, we regret to inform you that we will cancel AAFE’s Lunar New Year Banquet on March 19th.
As we explained in our last announcement to you all, AAFE is putting all of the proceeds from the event into an Emergency Small Business Relief Fund to assist all our community small businesses on the brink of closure. All around us, our neighborhood shops and restaurants are shuttering, and jobs are being lost. Not only are we gravely concerned about the health of each and every person, we are also concerned about the health of our community’s economic fabric and its ability to bounce back from crisis.
So therefore, we are rolling out our Emergency Small Business Relief Fund, administered by AAFE’s affiliate, Renaissance Economic Development Corporation (see details HERE). As small businesses across New York City anxiously await details of other City, State, and Federal emergency funds, we decided to move ahead immediately with $1.5 million of our own funds, made possible by you all, so that we can start saving many of those businesses already on the brink. We hope that our tireless elected officials leading the fight and government agencies now fine tuning their emergency fund programs will collaborate with us at AAFE Renaissance to broaden our impact for neighborhoods in need.
You may also have seen in the news that large banquet halls are now partially or completely shuttered due to cancellations. Our venue, Jing Fong, has been a mainstay convening place for so many Chinatown major events, galas, cultural gatherings and community activities, as well as an employer providing local jobs. AAFE will be presenting a check to Jing Fong to help soften the blow.
On behalf of AAFE and the community we help directly, we want to express our deepest gratitude for your steadfast support and donations to the Emergency Fund. The response has been tremendous. We have exceeded our goals and your generous gifts continue to pour in. The $1.5 million we are able to kickstart will help sustain essential businesses – restaurants, grocers, retail stores, salons and others – the lifeblood of our neighborhoods.
We will continue to accept donations towards the Fund, so please share widely.
As always, we are heartened and grateful for your friendship and support. Our community has a way of unifying during difficult times, rallying to meet unexpected challenges. We are confident we will overcome this new challenge together.
-Jennifer Sun and Thomas Yu
Co-Executive Directors, Asian Americans for Equality