By May S. Ruiz
Eric and Richard Dong, Arcadia residents and San Marino High School students, were named Outstanding Young Philanthropists by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Los Angeles Chapter (AFP/GLAC). They received the award at the 33rd Annual Celebration of National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon held on Wednesday, November 7, 2018 at the JW Marriott Los Angeles at LA Live.
The award recognizes individuals who exhibit a philanthropic philosophy that includes providing financial and volunteer assistance to meet community needs. Nominated by Dana Bean, Director of Development and Communications for Union Station Homeless Services in Pasadena, the Dong brothers were chosen by an AFP committee from a number of deserving candidates.
In her introduction of the awardees during the ceremony, Anne Miskey, CEO of Union Station, recalled, “We received a phone call from Richard and Eric, who were on their high school spring break. They said they heard about our organization from friends and they wanted to volunteer for us. Because they’re incredible pianists they started offering piano lessons for some of the kids in our family center. They were a big hit.
“But they didn’t stop there. Eric and Richard fund-raised from family and friends to give us a financial donation. Still, their generosity didn’t stop there. Their father, Ed, taught them how to invest in the stock market when they were young children and I asked them to talk to my kids.”
Continued Miskey, “They didn’t stop there either. With the profits they made from their investments, this past summer they established the Richard and Eric Dong Endowment Fund for Union Station. It is designed to provide scholarships for children in sports, music and the arts, leadership, and human rights promotion; to purchase books for the family library; to fund staff appreciation and recognition; and to finance the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights educational programs.”
When he took to the podium, Richard declared, “This is a great honor! How we’ve dreamed of receiving this prestigious award! And yet, when it came true, it was a surprise. We are sincerely grateful to the AFP and the committee for voting for us, and to Ms. Dana Bean and Union Station Homeless Shelter Services for nominating us. It has been our pleasure to be involved with this wonderful organization and its caring staff.”
Eric added, “National Philanthropy Day is a special day. Richard and I learned from home and the schools we’ve attended, that philanthropy is an American virtue. It is something that he and I have tried to practice since our middle-school years. We believe there is no age limit when it comes to education, leadership, and philanthropy. They’re all essential to a great country like ours.
“The words of Robert F. Kennedy, ‘Our future is not a gift, it is an achievement,’ deeply resonate in us. They empower us to help, to share, and to contribute. We are confident that together, we can make the world a better place.”
As recipients of the Young Philanthropists Award, Eric and Richard join an impressive group of community leaders who have shaped the spirit of giving and service in the Greater Los Angeles area.
Eric’s and Richard’s parents, Charity and Ed, instilled in them the values that make them such extraordinary young men. For that, we are profoundly thankful.