Early days of KAFSC1989

Inspired by Dr. Tai Young Lee who founded the Legal Aid Center for Women in Korea, a group of women leaders, establish the Korean American Family Service Center to serve battered women and their children through counseling, assistance and advocacy. Office space is donated by the Korean Methodist Church & Institute on West 115th Street in Manhattan.

The first volunteer training session on domestic violence is given, enabling a small corps of trained volunteers to work with battered women. The first Annual Gala Benefit is held at the New York Korean Association. A survivors’ support group, the Ottuki Club is formed and meets monthly with a professional therapist.

KAFSC receives its first major grant from the New York Women’s Foundation, allowing us to hire one full-time and one part-time staff. The Korean American Lawyers’ Association offers pro bono legal services and we relocate to our own office space in upper Manhattan.

In collaboration with Vision 25, a TV program on Korean Channel 25, KAFSC helps to produce a 6-part series addressing a wide range of topics on domestic violence and family dynamics.

Dr. Seok Cheol Ahn, a psychiatrist, helps set up protocols and guidelines for counseling and mental health services. KAFSC moves to a new location in mid-Manhattan and hires Jiyoung Kim as Executive Director.

In collaboration with the Flushing YWCA (now YWCA of Queens), KAFSC launches the Hodori After-school Program for young children of domestic violence survivors, with an initial group of 15 children.

Aiyoung Choi becomes Board Chair and the organization begins a rebuilding process. Our board membership and funding base begin to stabilize. Hali Lee becomes Executive Director. New private and public funds enable program expansion and hiring of more counselors.

Sanctuary for Families’ Center for Legal Services establishes a resident attorney position at KAFSC, providing pro bono legal services. With an award from the New York Women’s Foundation, Kwanghee Kim establishes the Ottuki Award, giving funds to an outstanding member of the Ottuki Club every year.

With funding from the NYC Department of Criminal Justice Services, the Center establishes a court advocacy and community outreach program as well as the Korean American community’s first 24-hour Crisis Hotline. Funding from the NYS Department of Health helps to establish a sexual assault counseling program, and a grant from the Kenworthy-Swift Foundation enables the expansion of counseling services to children and youth. Insook Do is hired as Executive Director.

KAFSC receives an Outstanding Service Award from U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno at a ceremony in Washington, DC. We are among eight awardees across the nation. The Center changes its Korean name from “New York Ga-Jung Moon-Je Sang-Dam So” to “New York Ga-Jung Sang-Dam So,” dropping the word “moon-je” meaning “problem.” We believe this reflects our expanded mission to provide comprehensive services and emphasizes the importance of both the prevention and intervention aspects of family violence. Bona Lee becomes Executive Director.

KAFSC relocates to a new and larger office in Queens to provide better access to our clients, more than half of whom reside in that borough.

KAFSC receives the Hong-Ik Award for Community Service from the Korean Central Daily News. Hye Sook Theresa Chong is hired as Executive Director.

The Youth Community Project Team is launched, highlighting KAFSC’s violence prevention initiative. The Unni-Hyung Mentoring Program is also launched, immediately securing 10 matches of youngsters with young adult professionals serving as mentors and role models.

KAFSC establishes WISH (Women with Independence, Support and Hope), a new support group for survivors, focusing on inner healing, self-awareness, and self-sufficiency.

With support from Verizon, Tech Talk, a computer-based program for learning technical skills as well as English language skills, is launched. Seon Ah Ahn is hired as Executive Director.

KAFSC relocates to a new space in Queens. The Hodori After-school Program grows from 45 to 60 children, and the Filial Therapy Program is launched to help parents enhance their relationships with their children through shared activities in play therapy.

KAFSC begins providing counseling and information on the Internet via a site called Mizville.
A moving compilation of personal accounts of trauma, suffering and healing written by domestic violence survivors and witnesses entitled VOICES is published.

In collaboration with sister agencies and other nonprofits, KAFSC organizes the annual Silent March through Flushing, with over 80 participants marching together to raise awareness about the pervasiveness of domestic violence. The annual Women’s Health Fair brings approximately 150 uninsured and under-insured women to receive preventive health screening services.

The number of children enrolled in the Hodori After -school Program reaches its maximum and we have to establish a waiting list. The Youth Community Project Team recruits new members for community projects that address environmental and food safety issues to promote health and wellbeing. Jungsook Grace Yoon becomes our new Executive Director and Sarah BJ Sung becomes the Chair of the Board.

KAFSC celebrates its 20 year of services to the community. The Board of Directors envisions tremendous growth of the organization and adopts a new mission statement and logo. Graduates from the Volunteer Training Program and others organize a peer support group and an on-line network, SOS Hotline, to utilize their skills and knowledge to find ways to assist domestic violence victims proactively.
In 2009, exactly 10 years after being recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice, KAFSC was honored with its first federal grant. The center became one of 58 national agencies to recieve a quarter-million dollar grant to launch a Transitional Housing Program; the only one of its kind in New York for Korean Women.

KAFSC was honored with another grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women (OVW). This grant launched Project SAFE (Strengthening Asiian Community, Furthering Empowerment), enabling increased outreach and education to Korean and Asian immigrant women.

We are a part of a groundbreaking partnership project called “Project Speak Out”, between four Asian immigrant-serving DV agencies in New York; New York Asian Women’s Center, Sakhi for South Asian Women, and Garden of Hope. These partnerships work to change attitudes towards domestic violence, a taboo issue in our community, by training and engaging volunteers and community members. KAFSC is a true believer in preventing and restoring broken families by transforming the entire community by mobilizing one individual at a time, and creating ripple effect in efforts everywhere. This partnership enabled KAFSC to hire a full-time staff, Community Relations Cooridinator, solely dedicated to develop and implement community outreach and education. KAFSC’s innovative outreach efforts were widely recognized, and the Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer, presented KAFSC with the Community Justice Award in celebration of Asian Heritage Month in May.

Our Hodori After-School Program Manager, Mi Jung You, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, received the PASEsetter Award from the Partnership for After-School Education in recognition of seven years of her commitment, energy, and indelible impact on the children and youth in our community.

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