The Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Greater Lowell celebrated its 34th Anniversary with its annual gala at Sompao Meas Restaurant Hall on November 3rd, 2018. This year’s gala was themed “A Night in Angkor” in celebration of ancient Khmer culture and traditions.
Over the past year, CMAA has been moving forward with several new initiatives while continuing to provide a vast array of services such as citizenship assistance, onsite translation services, and financial and educational workshops. The organization has also implemented a strategic plan with programs focused on civic education, youth empowerment and leadership development.
Highlights of CMAA’s 2018 include building a new community garden with Mill City Grows, Co-hosting a citizenship workshop with Project Citizenship , Partnering with the Brush Art Gallery on an exhibit for Asian American Heritage Month, Helping launch a new Pay for Success Workforce Development Program, and its annual role in events such as Cambodian New Year and the Cambodian Flag raising at Lowell City Hall
Mayor William Samaras, who has been a board member of the CMAA since 2014 was among the city, state, and officials in attendance at the event which also included Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and retiring U.S. Congresswoman Niki Tsongas.
Also in attendance were many candidates for office including U.S. congressional candidate for the Massachusetts 3rd district Lori Trahan and Democratic State Senate nominee Edward Kennedy, both of whom were elected the following Tuesday.
The night marked a transition of leadership as Vichtcha Kong was named the new president of the CMAA board, following the two year stint of Virak Uy. A Lowell native, Vee has been on the CMAA board for several years and served as the co-chair of the Gala event.
As tradition, CMAA also honors different community organizational partners. This year’s honorees were the Monorom Family Support Program run by the organization and funded by the Department of Developmental Services. This programs creates safe spaces for families who have members with disabilities and promotes inclusion.
CMAA also honored another long-time community leader and friend to the organization, Vanna Howard, with the community hero award.
Vanna has been an aide for Congresswoman Tsongas since 2008, specializing in immigration, US and foreign visas, US passports and inter-country adoption issues.
Congresswoman Tsongas even surprised Vanna with a congressional citation.