With a mission to “advocate, collaborate, and engage with businesses, families, professionals, seniors, among all community residents,” the Forest Hills Asian Association (FHAA) was started in February 2015. MK Vision Center and First American International Bank were among the earliest members of the leadership team.
Since then, FHAA’s Facebook group has attracted 275 members, and while the membership is largely concentrated in Forest Hills, residents from other Queens and New York City neighborhoods have taken interest.
“We have a diverse membership of Asian Americans and non-Asian Americans, and everyone is welcome to attend our events,” said founder and president Edwin Wong, a Maspeth native who has called Forest Hills home for the past ten years. “We are the first civic of its kind to represent the nearly 25 percent and growing Asian-American population in Forest Hills.”
The FHAA has been recognized for its community advocacy, and in just two years has worked with Musica Reginae, the Forest Hills Community and Civic Association, and American Legion.
Members have also assisted the Kiwanis Club for the annual Memorial Day parade and the 112th Precinct for “Night Out Against Crime.”
“Our association acts as a liaison with elected officials and community organizations, and all have been very supportive of our efforts,” said Wong.
They have even had an international reach. High school students in Toulouse, France, learned about FHAA and expressed a desire to become acquainted with New York City’s Asian-American culture. In November 2016, 25 of them paid a visit and stayed at the Flushing YMCA.
“They were immersed in Asian-American food, shopping, and entertainment, and we had a family-style Chinese dinner and they enjoyed the experience,” Wong said. “They just happened to find out about us online.”
To celebrate Asian culture locally, FHAA coordinated the “Mooncakes for Mid-Autumn Festival” and every May recognizes Asian American contributions to America during Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
“At our 2016 festival, we honored Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz for her contributions and tireless efforts to represent our community,” said Wong. “Recently, we partnered with the Brooklyn Nets to have an outing at Barclays and watch basketball player Jeremy Lin and celebrate Taiwanese Culture Night.”
With Lunar New Year celebrations in full swing, it is an especially busy time for the group.
“The Lunar New Year is a time to gather with families to celebrate and to pay respects to ancestors,” Wong said. “In 2015, we had a Lunar New Year networking event at Jade Eatery. At last year’s celebration, we partnered with the Queens Memory Project and the Forest Hills library.”
On February 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the recently opened Helen Marshall Cultural Center at Borough Hall, FHAA will co-sponsor a Lunar New Year photo contest and celebration. FHAA plans to be in the picture for the long haul.
“We hope to obtain funding to hire part-time staff and eventually full-time staff to run programs and events,” Wong said. “We also envision an Asian American center of Forest Hills, where anyone can visit and learn about various Asian cultures, as well as the contributions that Asian Americans have made to Forest Hills and Queens.”