A Latch-Key Kid

My dad was born in the US into an immigrant Chinese family when Chinese weren’t welcomed in the US.  Laundry work or manual labor were the only jobs opened to them. During WW II, Dad joined the US Army, then went to college and earned an MBA using his GI Bill.  Denied many jobs after graduation, he worked as a supermarket checker.  Later, he landed a job in state government.  Mom came over from China after marrying Dad.  She worked nights at the Post Office and later worked in payroll.

Bud, my husband, is from a military family. His dad enlisted in the US Army and the Army Air Corps and later worked as a school janitor. Bud was 14 when his dad died.  Bud’s mom, a German immigrant, kept the family going with work in a Dixie cup factory before becoming an LVN.  Bud went to college using GI Bill benefits related to his dad’s death.

My siblings and I were latch-key kids while Mom and Dad were at work. It was our job to cook dinner and do the laundry while finishing our homework.  No watching TV. I loved my library card, because I could read and dream about the world.  I went to a local university, UC Berkeley, because it was nearby and affordable. During college summers, I worked as a state clerk.

Bud and I studied in the University of California system that was heavily supported by tax-payers. Because of wise taxpayer investments in quality inexpensive education, Bud and I are well-trained healthcare professionals.  This set us up for future successful lives.

I worked for years as a dentist to low-income patients and people such as butchers, teamsters, and city workers who had union dental benefits. I also spent years volunteering as a dentist helping kids who did not have dental care. Accessible healthcare is important to me.  I also volunteered for over a year as the community lead for the Mission of Mercy, coordinating and leading dental labs, dentists, assistants, hygienists and a thousand volunteers. Together we treated over 1,200 people with more than $750,000 of free donated dental services.

Those of you who know Bud know that he is a workaholic, working and caring for his patients 14 hours a day, 5-7 days each week. Because of his ability to work and not get tired, we have become financially prosperous. This has allowed us to donate much money and countless hours to Family Building Blocks, Liberty House, OHSU, American Cancer Society, Oregon League of Minority Voters, UGM, Kroc Center, WOU, Medical Teams International, Salem Leadership Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation, United Way and Assistance League among others. Because our education and training are so important to us, we heavily fund scholarship programs at Chemeketa Community College and the NAACP. Our family lives by “…to whom much (health, talent, skills) is given, much is expected.”

Affordable quality education and training, hard work and luck led to much success for a couple of ordinary people from regular families.  That’s why as your legislator, I will work to strengthen our education and training programs, so others too may have paths to successful lives.