By Sara Smola, Photos by Mario Galeano
Whilemany teens were loafing around on their summer break, Arcadia’s Richard Dong, 17, and his 16-year-old brother, Eric, werebusy making a difference. The two have received multiple academic and musicalawards between them, including the President’s Volunteer Service Award at goldlevel and second place at the American Protégé International Piano and StringsCompetition.
But the Dongbrothers say their community service and philanthropic efforts are theirproudest accomplishments. They are putting their money where their heart is byestablishing The Richard and Eric Dong EndowmentFund at Union Station’s Family Center, benefiting children who are experiencinghomelessness. The Dongs generously contributed $25,000 to the fund throughtheir personal investment earnings and from piano performance fundraisers.
Thefund is specially designed to provide scholarshipsfor children in sports, music, and the arts; children’s books; and Robert F.Kennedy Human Rights educational programs.
UnionStation Homeless Services has grown since its inception in 1973, when a groupof community volunteers opened a simple hospitality center to serve poor andhomeless men in downtown Pasadena. While the outreach efforts and resourceshave grown exponentially, the program’s core mission has not: “Every persondeserves a life of dignity and a safe place to call home.” The nonprofit offersa wide variety of services includingstreet outreach, intake assessments, care coordination and navigation, meals,shelter, housing, and employment development.
With 45 years of providing life-changing services, Union StationHomeless Services is the largest such provider in the San Gabriel Valley. Lastyear, it helped more than 700 people find housing.
Over the summer, inhonor of the Dongs’ generosity, a ceremony was held at Union Station’s FamilyCenter, a 50-bed shelter for families with children experiencing homelessness.The celebration was attended by prominent community members, includingCongresswoman Judy Chu and former California State Assembly member Mike Eng.
“It was important forus to keep the legacy and ideals of justice, equality, and freedom for all thatRobert F. Kennedy embodied alive,” the brothers noted. “We felt that UnionStation embodies those ideals. Therefore, to honor Mr. and Mrs. Robert F.Kennedy, we chose to create this endowment on the 50th anniversary of his lastcampaign.”