Written by Jane Eng, CEO
I grew up in an immigrant family. My parents operated a hand laundry in Poughkeepsie, New York. Sadly, my father passed away when I was in high school. My mother was left with the responsibility to raise four children. Despite the challenging circumstances, she made sure that all of her children went to college and beyond. Today, my siblings and I are contributing members of our communities.
My family’s immigration history is not unique. People from around the world have come to this country seeking freedoms and opportunities woven into the American dream. The first generation works hard, and many make great sacrifices to secure a better future for their children. In doing so, immigrants contribute to the rich diversity of cultures, backgrounds, skills and experiences that makes this nation great.
In New York City, immigrants have helped revitalize neighborhoods such as Coney Island, Jackson Heights, Flushing and Sunset Park, and account for about $250 billion of economic activity annually. About 20% of Fortune 500 companies in the United States are founded by immigrants. Many of these firms have a strong presence in this city.
Immigrants are also playing an important role in helping New York meet its healthcare workforce gaps. One in three physicians in New York graduated from a foreign medical school, a sign that they were born outside the United States.
Immigrants are bringing vibrancy to the cultural life of this city through food, songs, dance, music, and other performing arts. Their economic and cultural contributions have made New York a truly international city.
Today, I am proud to give back to immigrant communities by working at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. The Health Center provides high quality primary health care to all patients regardless of language, culture, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, immigration history, or ability to pay. More than 85% of our patients prefer to be served in a language other than English. I truly believe that the Health Center’s success is due to our staff’s unwavering commitment to excellence and our ability to deliver linguistically accessible and culturally effective services.
The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center has served a vital role in meeting the health care needs of Asian Americans and other immigrant communities for more than 45 years. My hope is that we will continue to be a vital force in building healthy immigrant communities for many more decades to come.
Jane Eng is the chief executive officer of the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Jane has been involved with the Health Center since 1975. She is a board member of the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) and Community Health Care Association of New York State (CHCANYS).