On Saturday, September 24th, the City of Long Beach Development Services / Neighborhood Services Bureau hosted a tree-planting ceremony in memory of the late Ms. Heam Sum, who was a beloved grandmother and long-time AOC7 neighborhood resident of Long Beach for over three decades. The Long Beach community, including neighbors, city staff and volunteers, gathered in Craftsman Village Park early Saturday morning to take part in beautifying our city by planting 70 trees along 10th street (north), Hellman Street (south), Cherry Avenue (east) and Alamitos Avenue (west), the area that had a special meaning for Heam Sum.
“My dearest mother loved the AOC7 neighborhood and Long Beach. She never wanted to move to another place at all. She remained there until the last day of her life. She refused to move with us to live in different locations,” said Chan Hopson, Executive Director of Khmer Parent Association (KPA).
The ceremony began shortly after 9:00 am with opening remarks given by Margaret Madden, Neighborhood Improvement Officer, Chan Hopson, 2nd District Councilwoman Jeanine Pearce, and Charles Song, a community leader.
With positive energy and spirits running high, over 300 participants took to the streets and planted trees to give our neighborhood a greener, refreshing look.
What was most meaningful about this event was the sense of unity. The outpouring of support and community involvement to help improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods that day spoke volumes.
"Seeing the community come together as one made the event much more exciting. Lok Yeay Heam Sum's hard work and efforts for the Khmer community and the community as a whole will not be in vain. The newly planted trees are a living testimony of her legacy and remind all of us of the meaning of sacrifice,” said Daniel Tran, a Sophomore at CSULB.
As a way to thank the volunteers for their heartfelt contribution, the activity concluded with a tasty Khmer lunch, which included special desserts such as crispy fried bananas, sugar palm fruit cakes, French Sandwiches and plenty of fresh fruit. The volunteers surrounded the Kiwanis Club of Long Beach for popcorn and snow cones. Many businesses, and organizations donated paper goods, breakfast and refreshments.
"My mother chose to live in the AOC7 neighborhood for the rest of her life because she believed in the goodness of the people around her. Words are inadequate to express my joy for the overwhelming support and the loving kindness that I received from everyone on this memorial tree planting day for my dearest mother," said Chan Hopson.
Special thanks to our supporters and partners:
Voices of the volunteers
"I was so honored to be among hundreds of volunteers from all walks of life, young and old, who came out to join hands for this special Tree Planting event. It was a hot Saturday morning, and the volunteers could have been home or someplace else enjoying their regular activities; however, they chose to make a difference in their community. Mrs. Heam Sum's passion, commitment and her extraordinary dedication set a path for all of us way before she'd passed away, and to have this Tree Planting event dedicated to her is truly an honor not just for her but for our Cambodian community as a whole. May her honorable soul rest in peace." - Charles Song, Community Leader
"Working with KPA for I Dig Long Beach was by far one of my favorite service events I've done. Seeing all those people come together to beautify a community in remembrance of a single lady felt like something out of a movie. It was more like a family gathering than a service. Hearing Ms. Chan speak about Heam Sum and their community showed how truly passionate they all were and made me really want to do the best I could to help them out. What "got me," was the family that lived in the house we were working in front of. I thought they'd be irritated at us for all the noise we were making but instead, the woman and her son living there came out to watch and help. She was so thankful not only for making her home more beautiful, but also for giving her son something he could grow up with. It was hard work on a hot day that left my body sore and face sun burnt, but seeing how happy that little family was gave me the most rewarding feeling I've ever gotten from a service. I may not be part of their community, but I'm glad to have helped the Khmer Parent Association's project to memorialize Heam Sum. I wish them all the best and hope to volunteer again with with them soon!" - Miracle Terrazas, Alpha Phi Omega, CSULB
"The Memorial Tree Planting on Saturday was a historical event to honor such a dedicated and caring person, Om Heam Sum. She opened her small apartment to house me and my sisters with open arms when we first arrived in Long Beach in 1981. She was a green thumb lady. Now she is very happy to see 70 trees planted in her honor. She will be with all of us forever in the AOC7 neighborhood she always loved and cared for." - Roth Prom, AOC7 Resident
"It was such a fun and family-friendly tree planting event. I'm so happy and proud to see over 300 community members coming out together to plant 70 trees in less than 90 minutes. That's the power of working together to achieve a common goal. Thanks to Margaret Madden, Neighborhood Improvement Officer, and her planning team for bringing our diverse community members together and making us feel united as one." - Vattana Peong, Executive Director, The Cambodian Family of Santa Ana
"Helping plant the trees along 10th street in Long Beach on Saturday, Sept. 24th with other KPA members was a wonderful experience. Trees are very important to help clean the environment. The event gave me a chance to memorialize 10 of my own family members who died during the Cambodian Genocide from 1975-1979." - Both Samaner Huk, PAC, MD
Blog by David Kem, Vice Chair,
Pictures are the courtesy of Daniel Tran, Mary Simmons, Margaret Madden and Mark Hopson