The Pro Bono Spotlight honors volunteers and the important work they do to help Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA fulfill its mission of serving communities in need. In this edition, we recognize Vy Doan, who is currently a senior at Pomona College, studying Public Policy/Psychology and Asian American studies.
Vy Doan has been a stellar intern and member of the Health Access Project (HAP) Team for over a year, and during this time, she has elevated both HAP’s story collection and behavioral health work. In Fall 2017, Vy spearheaded the unit’s story campaign by helping to create and launch Our Voices, Our Health, featuring stories of the staff and community members of these Health Justice Network (HJN) partners: Pacific Islander Health Partners, Korean Resource Center, and National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse. In collaboration with StoryCorps and multiple HJN partners, this project highlights compelling stories to showcase the diversity of health care challenges and experiences within California’s Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities. Additionally, Vy has assisted with HAP’s behavioral health work and is currently putting the finishing touches on a California mental health directory.
Vy will also be honored as a Volunteer Recognition Award recipient at Advancing Justice-LA’s 4th Annual Pro Bono Advisory Council Volunteer Awards Mixer in February 2018.
We asked Vy to discuss her involvement with Advancing Justice-LA.
1. How did you learn about Advancing Justice-LA? I first learned of Advancing Justice-LA through Asian American courses at Pomona College. I learned about the legal work and advocacy that Advancing Justice-LA does on behalf of the Asian American community, particularly for individuals who are more vulnerable and have access to fewer resources.
2. What prompted you to get involved?
In the spring of my sophomore year, I took a community engagement course called Health Inequities, where I also volunteered as a naturalization coach for immigrant and refugee Asian American elders. Through this experience, I began to understand how factors like lack of English proficiency and the lack of data disaggregation uniquely impact the Asian American community. When my professor showed me some of the work Advancing Justice-LA had done to promote data disaggregation and healthcare advocacy, I knew I wanted to get involved and help advocate for more equitable health policies.
3. What have you learned or how have you been personally affected by your experience as an Advancing Justice-LA volunteer?
When I first came to Advancing Justice-LA, I was worried that I would not have many opportunities to get to know the HAP staff since I could only come into the office once a week. It turned out that my fears were unfounded - throughout my time volunteering, I have felt so supported by the HAP team and inspired not only by their dedication toward health equity, but also their commitment to ensuring a positive internship experience for me. I’ve even been included in team bonding activities such as a trip to the pumpkin patch around Halloween. I feel so grateful for the opportunity to work with such amazing individuals who are passionate about a diversity of healthcare issues.
4. Do you have an inspirational story you can briefly tell about your experience volunteering?
One of the projects I’ve been working on is an AANHPI health care blog series. One of the stories in this series is about the difficulties a mother and daughter faced while seeking medical services for the mother’s breast cancer. When I showed this story to my own mother, a breast cancer survivor, she really identified with the story’s description of how hard it was to navigate language barriers and medical expenses. As this blog continues to grow, I am moved by how these stories can highlight the broad range of health care challenges faced by AANHPI community members, and can also help build bridges between different communities and generations.
5. What advice would you give other individuals who want to participate in volunteer or pro bono work at the organization?
I have one piece of advice to share with potential volunteers. Your time and dedication is valuable and can impact those around you. Being able to share some of the work I’ve done with my friends and family has encouraged them to also spread the word about the importance of health coverage within their own networks. Some of the smallest actions can have some of the biggest impacts!