Success Stories

VYDC embraces a holistic approach to serving the needs of low-income Southeast Asian youth & families. We believe in developing skills that support Southeast Asian youth & families in various aspects of their lives so that they can realize their full potential. We provide jobs, academic support, social and cultural guidance, and language services, as well as strengthen family relationships and promote youth leadership. Whether you?re a recent immigrant, refugee, or San Francisco native, VYDC understands your unique struggle and is ready to offer personalized support and services. VYDC has transformed the lives of countless Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, and Southeast Asian youth & families. Read our success stories and discover the positive change that VYDC brings to the Tenderloin and other under- served communities across San Francisco.

Rutherford Kha is an Asian American who grew up in the Tenderloin neighborhood with immigrant Chinese and Vietnamese parents. Rutherford’s brother referred him to VYDC after finding a job with the Mayor’s Youth Education and Employment Program (MYEEP). After participating in the MYEEP program, he was approached with opportunities to develop his leadership skills. Rutherford participated in the Youth Leadership Program and became a Counselor-In-Training in the MYEEP program, which involved planning workshops and preparing participants for future job opportunities.

Rutherford believes VYDC is a great place to discover yourself. He is currently a junior in high school and enjoys going to all of the fun celebrations that VYDC provides for Asian youth & their families. One of his favorite things about the organization is the friendly atmosphere that our staff provides as soon as you walk in the door. Most importantly, Rutherford believes that VYDC has inspired him to plan for the future.

Hoa Du and his family arrived in San Francisco over eight years ago. He found VYDC through our annual Mid-Autumn Moon Festival celebration for the Tenderloin community. From there, Hoa discovered that VYDC offers programming for adults as well as youth and participated in the Strengthening Families Program. This program taught Hoa how to be a better communicator, which helped him connect with his family on a deeper level and strengthened their relationships. He felt incredibly supported by friendly staff who were “always willing to help” and encouraged participants to feel comfortable being themselves.

Hoa believes that VYDC brings positive change to the community and benefits Southeast Asian youth & families in many aspects of daily life. He hopes to continue attending VYDC events and participate in future programming. Hoa’s top advice for newcomers in San Francisco is to take advantage of the services that VYDC offers. As he says, if you lack confidence, struggle with language problems, or experience difficulties in your social life, VYDC will help you reach your full potential.

Soknay Lim is a role model for the success that VYDC Youth & Community Services inspires in urban youth. Her family moved from Cambodia to San Francisco when she was only 11 years old. Soknay and her family experienced significant language barriers. Soknay first came to VYDC because our youth services helped her older brother make new friends and learn American culture. She decided to join as a participant after being inspired by her brother’s success finding a job with the Mayor’s Youth Education and Employment Program (MYEEP).

Ever since, Soknay has been involved with several programs, including MYEEP, Empowerment of Southeast Asian Youth (ESAY), and San Francisco Young Adults Working (SFYAW). She used to feel uncomfortable speaking English because she feared people would make fun of her or dismiss what she was saying because they did not understand her. Now she feels confident because VYDC provided a supportive place for her to practice English in both speaking and writing. In her second year with MYEEP, Soknay also took on a Counselor-In-Training role which developed her leadership and public speaking skills.

When she started working part-time and had a little extra money, Soknay even made a donation to VYDC hoping it would make a difference for youth living in San Francisco’s Tenderloin. She believes VYDC gave her the passion to help people, appreciate diversity in her community, and become confident in her self-image. For these reasons and more, Soknay calls VYDC her second home.

Soknay is in now her 4th year at San Francisco State University studying health education. She wants to continue studying in health field after she finishes her undergraduate education and is considering becoming a doctor. Her top advice for San Francisco newcomers? “When things are new, you can expect it to be hard, but that doesn’t mean your aspirations are unachieveable. You just need to reach out and start communicating. Even if there is a language barrier, there are many ways to get your message across, so use your creativity!”