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Diverse Community Leader Award Honoree

Bang Van Pham (Tustin)

Bang Van Pham’s life has been a journey full of challenges and seemingly insurmountable difficulties, yet she has become known as a person of hope and optimism, generosity and boundless faith in the spirit of human decency.

In 1975, as Saigon fell, Bang escaped Vietnam with her small children in tow. Her husband, a member of the South Vietnamese congress, stayed behind to help others and barely escaped with his life. Arriving in Camp Pendleton, having left everything the family owned behind, Bang, who was an English professor in Vietnam, immediately began to teach daily English classes to fellow Camp refugees. After just five years into her new life, Bang and her husband, started a program which ultimately resettled more than one thousand refugees from South East Asian detention camps in the U.S. They worked tirelessly to help these refugees become highly successful and productive American citizens.

For years, Bang has participated in the homeless assistance program organized by Bao Quang Buddhist Temple in Santa Ana. The program has distributed food and other necessities to homeless people every Tuesday for the past three decades.

As a Commissioner on the OC Human Relations Commission(OCHRC), Bang proposed and advocated for the construction of public shower units in designated public parks for the homeless. She has also been instrumental in connecting OCHRC to the Vietnamese American community. To do so, she organized a Listening Session Temples and community centres where Commissioners experienced the art, history, music and food of Vietnam. Bang has also conducted outreach promoting county services in the Vietnamese American press with TV and radio interviews. Her efforts have helped this low-income refugee community connect with the County and make use of its services and resources.

Bang looks at life as a great gift and an opportunity to lend a helping hand to others, always with love, understanding and respect for human dignity of all around.

About the Award

Our annual Diverse Community Leaders Award honors individuals and groups who have made extraordinary contributions to Orange County in human or civil rights.

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