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Our Residents

Forest Park Manor Celebrates the Year of the Dragon

Forest Park Manor Celebrates the Year of the Dragon

For Myliem T. Vo, January 19 marked the start of a whole new year.

Vo, who moved to Western Massachusetts five months ago from her native Vietnam, came out to celebrate, the Vietnamese New Year Tết with a few dozen friends and family members at the activity center at Forest Park Manor, the Springfield Housing Authority elderly and disabled development that sits in the heart of the city’s Asian community.

Vo said the noontime event was a perfect blend of great food, fine company, and a fitting tribute to the start of the ‘Year of the Dragon.’

Forest Park Manor celebrates the Year of the Dragon

Left to right, standing: Khanh Nguyen of Jewish Family Services, Mayor Domenic Sarno, Elder Affairs Director Jan Rodriguez-Denney. Left to right, seated: Luu Le, Hoi Nguyen, Sang Nguyen, Van Lang, all of Springfield.

“I’m very happy today because I’m here to greet the Vietnamese New Year,” said Vo, who lives in Ware with her husband William Purcell.

Vo often visits Forest Park Manor, where Vietnamese immigrants get together twice a week to exercise and socialize. But this event was special, for its size and for its focus what is traditionally a significant holiday in the Southeast Asian country nearly 9,000 miles away.

The Springfield Housing Authority and the city’s Department of Elder Affairs co-sponsored the luncheon, which brought together people who hail from the Southeast Asian country nearly 9,000 miles away.

The event also featured a meal and a visit from Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, who thanked organizers for inviting him.

“I’m a neighbor of Forest Park Manor, and many of the people here are my neighbors,” Sarno said. “Our Vietnamese neighbors appreciate being here in the United States, and this allows them to celebrate and honor their culture.”

Indeed, the luncheon had the festive, lively tone of a holiday, and the atmosphere of old friends united.

Khanh Nguyen works at the nearby Jewish Family Services, and helps to run the Vietnamese Womens’ Group that meets at Forest Park Manor on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He said that many of the women have husbands who were held captive for several years after the United States pulled out of Vietnam in 1975 and Saigon fell to the Viet Cong.

“This group helps bring these women together to share their stories, and to bond with each other,” Nguyen explained. “Any time they get together, they cook and they talk and laugh. Today, we are celebrating.”

Hieu Nguyen is such a one. She left Vietnam 19 years ago, and enjoys meeting with her friends at Forest Park Manor as much as anything else.

Forest Park Manor celebrates the Year of the Dragon

Madelyn Allen, SHA director of senior activities at Forest Park Manor, and Candra Cripps, SHA resident service coordinator.

“We get together a lot,” said Nguyen, who is not related to Khanh Nguyen.

“We all live here in this country, but we love to get together to share who we are. We have fun,” she said.

The mayor was joined by Janet Rodriguez Denney, director of the Department of Elder Affairs. Also on hand organizing were Madelyn Allen, director of senior activities at Forest Park Manor, and Candra Cripps, SHA resident service coordinator.

All agreed the luncheon was an unqualified success.

“Forest Park Manor is a great spot for the Vietnamese community in the city,” said Allen. “It’s close to where they live, and where they worship, and most of them don’t drive. We open our events to everyone.”
Cripps added, “It’s wonderful that the community can get together like this.”

4567 days ago / Our Residents
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