"Creating Health and Wellness in Boston Chinatown"
Chinatown is the historical enclave for the Chinese American community in Boston, and it continues to serve as an important hub for culture and services to the Asian community that live, work, and recreate here. In recent years, the neighborhood has undergone dramatic demographic and land use changes. However, while the median income has increased overall, poverty, housing insecurity, access to culturally and linguistically appropriate services, and racism continue to be challenges for many Asian American residents. Long-standing and new Chinatown-based organizations have broad visions of health that support and empower residents to address these and other determinants of health.
This session showcases organizations and research that broadly promote community health and wellbeing in the Boston Chinatown neighborhood. We will provide background on Chinatown and the people who live here and highlight three Boston Chinatown-based organizations that serve the neighborhood and beyond. Since 1969, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC) has provided a broad range of innovative programs and services centered around education, workforce development, family support, and arts and culture, to more than 13,000 children, youth, and adults every year. Since 1972, the Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center (GBCGAC) has served Asian elderly through a comprehensive network of programs and services designed to accommodate the needs of elders so that they can maintain their independence and wellness at home in the community. Since its inception in 2017, the Pao Arts Center has engaged 295 artists, hosted 475 events and exhibits and welcomed over 23,000 visitors to celebrate and strengthen the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community of Chinatown and Greater Boston through access to relevant art, education, and creative programs. Research collaborations have also flourished through Addressing Disparities in Asian Populations through Translational Research (ADAPT), an academic-community partnership supported by Tufts CTSI. ADAPT identifies community-driven research agendas to facilitate health equity for the Asian American community in Boston Chinatown and supports actionable research to improve the lives of resident families. The organizations and research efforts showcased here represent only a fraction of the work and efforts underway in Chinatown, but reflect the vision of health and community wellness and the values that undergird that work.
Megan Cheung, MSW, LICSW, RN, is the Associate Director/ Clinical Director at the Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center (GBCGAC). She oversees the Adult Day Health programs, Social Services, and health promotion programs. Her long term commitment is to provide culturally-appropriate services to Chinese-speaking elders so that they can maintain the highest quality of life and comfort for as long as possible. She has many years of experience of working in health care, primarily with the geriatric population. Prior to working at GBCGAC, she has worked in home care, rehabilitation centers, and nursing homes. She was a consultant for several rehabs and nursing homes for over 10 years. She earned a Master Degree in Social Work from Washington University and a Nursing Degree. She is the President of the Chinese Women Association of New England and board members of the Massachusetts Adult Day Services Association & the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New England.
Virginia (Ginny) Rall Chomitz, PhD is an Associate Professor, Associate Director of Field Practice, and Nutrition Concentration Leader in the Department of Public Health at the Tufts School of Medicine. She also has a secondary appointment at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Ginny is a public health researcher with 30 years of experience in applied and pragmatic research, primarily addressing healthy eating and active living for children and families through community-based behavioral and environmental intervention approaches. More recently, she has focused on understanding and addressing health-related inequities through studying social determinants of health and community wellbeing. This has included community-engaged research investigating interrelationships of housing and health; art and creativity and community resilience; and transportation and food security. Ginny currently serves on the Addressing Disparities in Asian Populations through Translational Research (ADAPT) committee, an academic-community partnership supported by Tufts CTSI. ADAPT identifies community-driven research agendas to facilitate health equity for the Chinese American community in Boston Chinatown and supports actionable research to improve the lives of resident families.
Ginny is a co-lead on the Massachusetts Academic Public Health Corps, and faculty lead for the MPH Applied Learned Experience (the MPH capstone program). She received her MS and PhD at the Tufts School of Nutrition, and has held academic and management positions at Harvard School of Public Health, the Cambridge Health Alliance, and the Institute for Community Health. She lives in Lexington MA with her husband and two cats.
Ben Hires joined BCNC as CEO in June 2020. Ben has significant experience in nonprofit leadership and serving young people and families. He held leadership positions in programs, strategy, and external relations at the Boston Children's Chorus and the Boston Public Library. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Political Science, a Master of Theological Studies, and a Master of Science in Arts Administration all from Boston University.
Cynthia Woo, has been the Director of Pao Arts Center, at Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center since Jan 2017. She has fifteen years of experience in the non-profit arts, and arts education sector. She has worked at the Chinese American Museum of Los Angeles, LynnArts, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Boston Center for the Arts.
Pao Arts Center was established in 2017 as a visionary program collaboration between Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC) and Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC). Located at 99 Albany Street in downtown Boston, Pao Arts Center is Chinatown’s first arts and cultural center.
Pao Arts Center represents the belief that investing in arts, culture, and creativity are vital to the health and well-being of individuals, families, and vibrant communities. Through its innovative approach, Pao Arts Center empowers creativity, connection, learning, and support.