Just some ordinary people doing our best for a cause we care about.
Grace is a Chinese-American investment banker, and a recent Cornell grad. Although born in Rockville, MD, she grew up in China under her grandmother’s wing—spending her childhood learning how to make dumplings and binge watching Return of the Pearl Princess—away from her parents who had just immigrated to America. Following her return to the US, Grace remembers going to lively family friend gatherings where everyone would get together at a local Asian restaurant for those quintessential round-table dinners. Just as the round tables on which they were served, these dinner gatherings created a space without divides and connected people as one family. As time passed, family friend parties turned into hotpot and KBBQ feasts with her friends. Her upbringing and background have helped to cultivate the strong attachment she feels to the Asian restaurant community.
Although Grace is normally based in NYC, she has returned to Maryland following the COVID-19 outbreak to be closer to her family during work from home. Through the Woks for Washington initiative, she hopes to reunite with and give back to the Asian restaurant community, which has helped shape her childhood, while supporting front-line workers and the folks in her community who need the most support.
Cathleen Shi is a Chinese-American middle schooler who was born and raised in Rockville, MD. Growing up, her parents put a strong emphasis on learning about and understanding her identity as a Chinese-American. Ever since she remembers, she has attended a local Saturday Chinese school, where she not only learned the Chinese language, but was also introduced to the country’s rich culture. She spent her childhood listening to her grandpa’s narrations of Journey to the West while eating homemade bao. Each birthday was marked by that essential bowl of longevity noodles. Each Thanksgiving has left a warm memory of family friends gathered around an array of Western and Asian dishes, ranging from turkey and mashed potatoes to roast Peking duck.
Learning about her roots while growing up in the US has helped her to find her place within the Asian American community. Through Woks for Washington, Cathleen hopes to preserve the wide range of Asian cuisine available in our community, so that many more people will be able to experience and enjoy this facet of Asian culture.
Kimberly is a business analyst in the DC metro area who has also lived in Seattle and Los Angeles prior to going to college. Growing up, her family always placed an emphasis on keeping in touch with your roots and often went to the Chinatown in the area to grab some dim sum or roast duck. Through Woks for Washington, she hopes to give back to the Asian restaurant community and the healthcare community, both of whom have supported her in more ways than one.
Catherine is a marketing and advertising young professional from Boston, MA. Her childhood was characterized by celebrating Asian culture through food. At Chinese school, she took cooking as her afternoon activity, and she often played pretend restaurant with her mom’s homemade cooking. During high school and college, she continued to honor Asian culture within the community by organizing multiple Lunar New Year events. Through Woks for Washington, she hopes to continue giving back to the Asian community and use her passion for marketing to bring this grassroots initiative to life.
Fundraising & Volunteer Engagement
Winnie is a program coordinator with the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, supporting clinical education outreach across the country, and a recent Cornell graduate. Her passion lies in engaging folks in giving back to the community through creative and impactful means in issues pertaining to health and food security. The daughter and granddaughter of Chinese immigrants, one of whom worked for years in Asian restaurants, Winnie has more recently begun to deeply explore her connection to her roots and family through food and cooking. Especially as she navigates her identity and place in the wider Asian American community, she has always seen food as a rich reflection of culture and history, and as an ultimate reflection of care and compassion. She is excited to bring her coordination and logistics skills to Woks for Washington in an effort to do her part in preserving the Asian restaurant community and essential workers that have kept the nation going through tough times.
Donor & Media Outreach
Aditya is an internal auditor and a recent Cornell grad, who is currently based in New York City. He grew up in Mumbai during his childhood years. In his time spent in both cities, Aditya has frequented Asian restaurants, which have always provided him with enjoyable and fulfilling dining experiences, which have allowed him to strengthen ties with both family and friends. In addition, he has close ties to the healthcare community, due his parents both being doctors. In this time of the COVID-19 outbreak, Aditya hopes he can provide support and give back to the Asian restaurant community and the healthcare community, which have both served as welcoming spaces for him.
WFW In The News
NBC 4: Woks for Washington Helps Restaurants, Health Workers While Fighting Prejudice | 1.26.2021
Eater DC: This Crowdfunding Effort Pays D.C. Area Asian Restaurants to Feed Their Communities | 9.15.2020
WTOP News: ‘Woks for Washington’ aims to preserve local Asian cuisine during the pandemic | 9.13.2020
Mochi Magazine: Woks for Washington | 8.14.2020
Washington Post: Groups feed hospital workers — and support restaurants, too | 8.10.2020
China News: Sending Love to the Front Line | 7.28.2020
World Journal: Two-Prong Fight Against the Virus | 7.24.2020
Angry Asian Man: Fight the Virus. Fight the Bias. | 7.21.2020
“Woks for Washington is a fantastic organization to channel resources and focus on Asian restaurants. We are lucky to partner with them. On one hand, we had the opportunity to serve the front-line workers and thank them for their hard work. On the other hand, it helps us to maintain the payroll and promote our brand.” – Owner, Lawrence Chen
PHO & GRILL
“Not only is Woks for Washington a medium for us to give back to the community, they help introduce more people to Asian food. Most importantly, we can rely on Woks for Washington for their consistency with orders and dedication of their team. Couldn’t have asked for a better partnership!” – Manager, Pimmie Jungtranggur
BAB Korean Fusion
BAB manager Justine Choe has enjoyed working with the Shi sisters, praising the “passion” she’s seen in their leadership. “It feels good to be part of something that creates change,” she says over email. “We are glad there are more ways for us to keep serving the community.” (Eater DC article)
Promise Place youth Emergency Shelter
On our first delivery to them | 8.15.2020
“The children thoroughly enjoyed the food. It was such a tremendous blessing!”
“In the early parts of the pandemic, we literally, literally had no meals for lunch,” program coordinator Eddie Hall says, explaining some people had to ration part of their dinner for lunch the next day. Since then, a few nonprofits have helped provide food. Hall is grateful Woks for Washington was able to provide meals when it did. (Eater DC article)
Such a sweet note!
Meeting the folks at Promise Place 🙂
Some words from the Woks for Washington Team:
Promise Place is a youth emergency shelter in Capitol Heights, MD, that provides short-term housing and services to youths before helping them onto the next steps of their lives, whether it’s reconnecting them with their families, helping to send them to college, or aiding in the job search. Since their facilities lack a kitchen of their own, and their usual chef has been out, the meals we provide are very much appreciated by the youths at Promise Place!
Neisha Thai CUisine
“You are an inspiration! Thank you for all your do. It’s such amazing work.”
Manager Pimmie Jungtranggur says the restaurant is “honored” to work with Woks for Washington. “We just have to … channel all our energy to get everyone through this together,” she writes over email. According to Jungtranggur, the pandemic has reversed Neisha’s sales breakdown. Carryout and delivery have replaced dine-in sales as the main source of revenue. (Eater DC article)
“Woks for Washington helped support restaurants like us who are struggling to survive. They are like good friends who help you when you are in trouble.” – Owner, Rick Kitchrayotin
Virginia Hospital center
On our First Delivery to them | 8.07.2020
The medical staff at Virginia Hospital Center Emergency Department “loved it and thought it was a nice treat on a Friday.”
“Please thank [the team for] their generous donations and commitment to helping so many during such a difficult time.”
ADVENTIST HEALTHCARE SHADY GROVE MEDICAL CENTER
On our first delivery | 7.24.2020
Nurses working the night shift on the Progressive Care Unit (PCU) at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center received the 20 meals donated by Woks for Washington on Friday, July 24. The PCU serves as a bridge between the Emergency Department and the hospital’s Medical Surgical Units. Patients who come to the PCU are often quite sick. The unit’s caregivers help coordinate lab work and diagnostic testing, and they stabilize patients so they can move to another unit for recovery.
Siphra Mukoro, RN, was the PCU charge nurse Friday evening. She said the PCU is a very busy unit where nurses often don’t have time to sit and eat. The nurses were “so happy” to receive the donated meals, which included entrées of either chicken or tofu, plus side dishes of rice and vegetables. Siphra noted everything tasted great and the portions were very generous. The nurses kept saying, “This is a lot of food!” Some of the nurses were able to take leftovers home to their families.
She said the nurses are very grateful and that receiving the donated meals makes them feel very supported in the work they’re doing. “It’s such a blessing,” she said.