By May S. Ruiz
Arcadia teens Richard and Eric Dong were honored with the ‘Youth of the Year’ distinction during Congresswoman Judy Chu’s 10th Annual Leadership Award ceremonies held last Sunday, July 28, from 12 noon to 3 pm at the Arcadia Community Center. Awards were also given for Businessperson, Educator, and Volunteer of the Year, among others.
Richard graduated this past spring from San Marino High School (SMHS) and will be attending New York University this fall, while Eric is a rising senior at SMHS. The brothers are active volunteers and philanthropists, spending hours doing service at various community organizations and schools while endowing the same places with funds to support their mission.
Children of Chinese immigrants, Richard and Eric were instilled with the importance of contributing to society during their earliest years growing up in San Gabriel Valley. Both of them are gifted piano players and they happily share their passion for music. They perform at schools, chapels, central libraries, senior citizen and homeless centers, and for the public at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and Carnegie Hall in New York.
From their father, Richard and Eric learned the intricacies of the stock market that made them savvy investors. Using the financial gains from their investments, they established their first endowment to their middle school (Clairbourn) in 2014 to provide scholarships for students in music and the arts. Heartened by its positive outcome, they continued to give more – to San Marino High School to fund school supplies and to the International Leadership Foundation (ILF) to support leadership training, US-China relations, human rights, and global democracy and governance initiatives in 2017. And, in 2018, they founded the Richard and Eric Dong Endowment Fund for Union Station to provide scholarships for children.
Additionally, Richard and Eric were recipients of the President’s Volunteer Service Award at Gold level, Congressional Award for Bronze and Silver Medal, and the 2018 Outstanding Young Philanthropist Award given by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
In their acceptance speech at the awards ceremony, Richard and Eric acknowledged Congresswoman Chu for her continued encouragement and thanked Ivy Sun, honorary chairperson of ILF’s L.A. Chapter and former mayor of San Marino Richard Sun. They also expressed their deep gratitude to Anne Miskey, CEO of Union Station Homeless Services in Pasadena, for nominating them.
As always, the Dong brothers attributed Robert F. Kennedy’s words ‘Our future is not a gift, it is an achievement’ as their inspiration and for empowering them to do good work. Young people in San Gabriel Valley would do well to emulate Richard’s and Eric’s exemplary undertakings.