Two sisters looking to give back during the pandemic decided to pair their culture and experience as Asian Americans to help struggling businesses.
Grace Shi, 23, is a foodie at heart. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit, she decided to take her passion for food a step further.
“It was really easy to feel a little bit helpless in terms of the perception that we’re the ones who brought the virus here,” Shi said.
Grace, who works in finance and recently graduated from Cornell, was working in New York City and moved home to Rockville, Maryland, when the coronavirus pandemic began.
She started thinking of ways to give back and started Woks for Washington with her 13-year-old sister Cathleen. It’s a non-profit organization aimed at preserving Asian American culture through sharing Asian cuisine.
They raise money through private donations and their GoFundMe page to purchase food from D.C. area restaurants and then pick up and deliver the food to essential workers.
Their organization works through a fiscal partnership with the Players Philanthropy Fund.
The places they are currently donating and delivering food to include Adventist Healthcare Shady Grove Medical Center, Promise Place Youth Emergency Shelter, Suburban Hospital and Virginia Hospital Center.
“It’s grown a lot faster than I’ve ever imagined it,” Cathleen said. “I’m excited to spread more awareness about Asian American diversity.
Their goal is to provide 5,000 meals by next summer.
Cathleen said that she has seen discrimination against Asian Americans increase since the coronavirus pandemic and she hopes that by helping bring awareness to the culture and cuisine that they can help to change stereotypes.
“When I was younger, a couple of my non-Asian classmates actually started making fun of the smell of my dumplings that I brought for lunch to the point where one of them actually knocked some down to the ground,” Cathleen said.
The sisters recently started a blog called “Food for Thought” on their website to help share their thoughts and to be vocal about diversity and inclusion from an Asian American perspective.
“I’m hoping that something like this especially can show people that preserving and appreciating our diversity is important,” Grace said.