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Red Cross honors boro Chinese paper publisher

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The American Red Cross honored the publisher of a College Point-based Chinese newspaper and several of the organization’s volunteers for their community outreach in helping the city to heal from the World Trade Center attacks.

Leaders of the organization’s Queens chapter gathered at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills last Thursday to pay tribute to Howard Lee, a philanthropist and president of the World Journal, and a team of Red Cross volunteers.

“Since Sept. 11, we have seen numerous examples of how we can bond together for the common good,” said City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), who presented plaques to the honorees. “We have come through with flying colors and you can say the colors are red, white, and blue.”

Lee, who founded the World Journal in 1976, one year after he immigrated to the United States, has donated thousands of dollars to relief organizations and helped mobilize Chinese immigrants in volunteering to assist in the recovery from Sept. 11.

The Red Cross also honored Lee for community service unrelated to the World Trade Center attacks. A major role of his newspaper, the largest Chinese-language publication in North America, is to help Chinese immigrants assimilate in the United States by providing useful information about employment, housing, and immigration services.

The World Journal assists immigrants all over the country through its San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Dallas offices.

Lee, who was given the Community Leadership Award, has also donated significant funds to the journalism program at Queens College, to medical clinics in Chinatown, and to Chinese senior centers in Queens.

“It has always been the World Journal’s mission not only to bring our readers news about their homeland, but also to provide them with information to feel secure and happy,” Lee said.

The awards dinner also honored members of the Red Cross’s Queens Disaster Action Team. Always on call, the volunteers respond to any major disaster with medical attention, food, blankets, and mental health experts.

The group spent countless hours at the World Trade Center site and at Shea Stadium, where volunteers provided a base for firefighters responding to the Sept. 11 attacks.

The team, made up of adults and students, was presented with the John McGee Community Services Award. The honor was named for a the late McGee, who headed the Disaster Action Team for several years and led volunteers to the World Trade Center site last year.

McGee unexpectedly died about six months ago after undergoing a routine operation on his neck and shoulder, said Mario Velez, who heads the team and spoke about its response to 9/11. Velez, a close friend of McGee, said he did not know the cause of death.

“It was just amazing. Anything (the firefighters) needed was there for them. People were working 15- to 18-hour shifts. They were tired. They were filthy” following the attacks on the World Trade Center, said Velez. “Something like this happens and everyone comes together.”

Reach reporter Brendan Browne by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 155.

Updated 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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