At the September 23, 2016, meeting of Friends of the Village, speakers from the Village’s diverse cultural clubs presented an overview of their activities in a program organized by FOV Secretary Marion Levine (left). Following is a summary of the meeting by Club Publicity Chair Mary Lopata:
The meeting opened at 2:10 PM. Friends of the Village (FOV) President Catherine Brians welcomed all present and noted that of the over 250 clubs in Laguna Woods Village, many reflect various national and cultural heritages. She thanked FOV Secretary Marion Levine for all her work in organizing this presentation.
Regarding club business, Catherine reported that the FOV nominating committee convened and adjourned almost immediately, as all current officers and committee chairs agreed to continue in their positions for the coming year. FOV will be dark the months of November and December. Meetings are free to all residents of Laguna Woods Village. Membership is available for $15 for one or $20 for two at the same address.
The Board has several ideas for meeting topics in 2017, such as Information Help for New Residents, Questions about Compliance, Landscape Issues, and Property Services. Index cards and pens were provided in the back of the room for attendees to write down topics that they would like addressed. FOV is a non-political club; we do not give candidate endorsements; our purpose is to provide a forum for the sharing of information in order for residents to make their own decisions.
Catherine then introduced Marion Levine to present the program and introduce the speakers.
Irena Lawyer, POLISH CLUB
Bill Chao, CHINESE AMERICAN CLUB
Annie McCary, AFRICAN AMERICAN HERITAGE CLUB
Mina Ford, IRANIAN CLUB
Egon Garthoffner, GERMAN AMERICAN CLUB
Heshan El Damhougy, Resident of EGYPTIAN Birth
Marion noted there were many in the audience who were new to FOV meetings, which shows Village interest in “Our International Village.” She distributed a handout listing the following 21 Village ethnic/cultural clubs.
ETHNIC CLUBS IN LAGUNA WOODS VILLAGE
African American Heritage Club
American Italia Club
Chinese American Club
Chinese American Citizens Alliance
Daughters of the British Empire
Dutch American Club
German American Club
Golbung Patogh (Persian)
Golden Girls Dance Club (Chinese)
Hungarian-American Club of Laguna Woods Village
India Club of Laguna Woods
Japanese Culture Club
Korean American Club
Persian Game Club
Scottish Dance & Heritage Club
Below, Irena Lawyer (left) of the Polish Club with Marion Levine.
Marion said she contacted all the clubs by writing, calling and following up with an invitation to present today. Of the 21 clubs, only two confirmed coming, but some of the “maybes” showed up, too. She touched on her handout’s coverage of the 2010 Census facts about the Laguna Woods population, which at that time was about 65% female, and predominately (87%) White, followed by 10% Asian, and 0.7% African American, with other recognized racial populations completing the remainder. (See handout data reproduced below.) She reminded us that all Village clubs are open to all residents.
Marion then introduced the first speaker, Irena Lawyer, President of the Polish Club. Irena reported that her club has about 150 members, only five of whom speak Polish. Mostly the others are curious about Polish culture and food, she said, adding that the Poles are a happy people in spite of a sad history. Unfortunately, she’s found that the younger generation of Village residents are less interested in ethnic clubs than older resident, but are more interested in sports and such. The c\Polish Club formerly met once a month, but now meets only twice a year, for Easter and Christmas parties. There are not enough otherwise to meet the catering minimum which is 150, she explained. Irena invited all to come to the Polish Club’s events.
Marion introduced the next speaker (at left), Bill Chao, President of the Chinese American Club (CAC), which has about 400 members. Bill said the club’s primary purpose is to help Chinese residents in Laguna Woods Village to understand the American culture, particularly the healthcare environment and health insurance. They have monthly meetings with a guest speaker, usually someone to talk about Medicare subjects and how to keep healthy and independent in the senior years. Also, they give information on understanding American laws to people new to the country.
Many CAC members have been in the US for many years, mostly retired professionals. About 80% speak English very well. For newcomers to the English language, the City of Irvine Senior Center offers lessons, Bill said, but added that it is very difficult to learn a new language at an advanced age. There are over 2,000 Chinese dialects, although most people learn Mandarin for communication. There is another new organization called the Chinese American Citizens Alliance in the Village which came from the San Francisco area and is not affiliated with the CAC, although they do cooperate with each other. Bill explained that club is mostly lawyers who assist with legal problems. An audience member asked about encouraging outreach to non-Chinese neighbors as a way to participate in Village life and be safer; the speaker said that was an excellent idea that he will suggest to his membership.
Marion then introduced Heshan El Damhougy, (at right) a neighbor of hers who was born in Egypt and has been living in North America for 40 years. Heshan said he does not represent any group, but was just speaking for himself. He came to the US via Canada where he earned his Ph.D. When he retired from the aerospace industry, someone told him about Laguna Woods Village. He moved in three years ago and loves it. He has only met two other families from Egypt in the Village. Egypt is probably the biggest melting pot country in the world, he said. Egyptians speak Arabic officially; about 90% are Muslim and 10% Christian. The country is politically stable but unstable economically. The Egyptians are by nature a very patient people, he said, so change takes a long time. He visited in 2014 and found it safe, with happy people, adding that Cairo, with a population of over 100 million, never sleeps and resources are tight.
The next speaker (at left), Annie McCary, represented the African American Heritage Club. She is a retired nurse practitioner from LA County/USC Hospital, and was tired of the big city. She and her husband have found Laguna Woods Village to be quiet and peaceful and are happy with the safety and security of the Village. They also like its being close to the ocean. She joined the club because she “didn’t see any people in the Village who looked like her,” and her Korean-American neighbor referred her.
The club has about 30 members and meets on the third Saturday in Clubhouse 5 between 3-5 PM. The members come together to celebrate African American Heritage; the club is not religious and not political, rather they embrace a culture of the heart. All are welcome, Annie said. There is no agenda; they have social, educational, and cultural events. As an example, recently the meeting was about breast cancer in terms of specific populations. The club embraces everyone and has a vision of doing more outreach.
Mina Ford, a representative from the Iranian Club, (at right) spoke next, stressing that she is very happy to be here. She came to the US before the Iranian Revolution, so has been here around 40 years. She has only gone back two times since, and said she is not happy with the current government. When she lived there, women were free, but now there is a lot of pressure on women to conform to religious rules, she said. Mina wanted to raise her children in America. She has lived in the Village for four years.
According to Mina, the Iranian Club loves parties, food, music, and dancing. They meet on the fourth Friday in Clubhouse 7 from 5-10 PM for a friendly celebration. The language spoken is Farsi, once called Persian. Another Village club, Golbung Patogh (Persian), has a different focus, she said; its meetings are more about medicine, writers, and education.
Egon Garthoffner, the German Club’s President, (at left) was our last speaker. He is a one-year resident of the Village, and stated that, sadly, the German Club seems to be declining; he is trying to keep it viable. The club meets once a month, and is mostly women who enjoy speaking German. They also host an Octoberfest and a Christmas Party. Meetings are held the first Wednesday of the month in Clubhouse 6 from 2-4 PM. Egon suggested that maybe in the future some of the smaller European cultural clubs may merge into one “Euro Club.”
Marion wrapped up the panel by commenting on the diversity of Laguna Woods Village and encouraged everyone to join in the activities of the various ethnic clubs, whose events are listed in The Globe. She will suggest to the Recreation Department that it would be nice to have a Village International Day with food and dancing to celebrate our ethnic diversity. Some present recalled that, in the past, similar celebrations were very successful in the former Leisure World.
President Brians brought the meeting to a close at 3:15 PM, thanking our speakers and everyone present for attending and inviting all to come to the next meeting, Friday, October 28, 2016, in the Village Greens Dining Rooms 2 & 3, at 2 PM, when our speaker will beTim Moy, Head of Security.
Respectfully submitted by Mary Lopata
For further information, call her at 714-84-5844.
Who Lives in the City of Laguna Woods? according to the 2010 Census
There are 16,192 people living in the City of Laguna Woods. Of those people, 5,755 (35.5%) are male and 10,437 (64.5%) are female, The median age in the City of Laguna Woods is 77.
There are 15,991 people in the City of Laguna Woods who identify as a single race. Of this total, 14,133 (87.3%) are White; 1,664 (10%) are Asian; 110 (0.7%) are Black or African American; 24 (0.1%) are American Indiana and Alaska Native; and 90 (0.6%) are some other race.
650 people (4%) identify as Hispanic or Latins (of any race).
201 people (1.2%) identify as two or more races.
Of the Asian population of the City of Laguna Woods, 509 (3.1%) are Chinese; 503 (3.1%) are Korean; 273 (1.7%) are Filipino; 185 (1.1%) are Japanese; 68 (0.4%) are Asian Indian; 31 (0.2%) are Vietnamese; and 55 (0.3%) are other Asian.
Here are the US Census definitions of race:
White — A person have origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.
Black or African American — A person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa.
American Indian or Alaska Native — A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment.
Asian — A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander — A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.