SAN JOSE, Calif. - County leaders in the South Bay are set to open a brand new state-of-the-art Vietnamese American Service Center. Santa Clara County is home to the second largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam.
On Monday, county leaders showed off Santa Clara County’s new Vietnamese American Service Center in East San Jose off Tully and Senter roads ahead of Saturday’s big grand opening.
"This gleaming building behind me is almost ready to open its doors and this is a culmination of years and years of work," said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.
The idea for the center began in 2011 after a county health assessment of the Vietnamese American community found alarming stats. Vietnamese American women were five times more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer and Vietnamese people had high rates of asthma.
However, because of cultural and language barriers, they struggled to get healthcare.
"What we started to glean was we needed a very specific approach to keep the Vietnamese American community healthy," said Chavez.
The 37,000 square foot center will serve as a hub for county health and behavioral services. First floor is the lobby, second floor is dedicated to health services and lab work. The third floor is filled with community rooms, event space and childcare services.
Details throughout the building pay respect to Vietnamese traditions like bamboo etching symbolizing protection and a safe space.
"After the fall of Saigon, as we know thousands of Vietnamese refugees fled persecution, headed to the United States, so many ended up here," said State Senator Dave Cortese.
"As a second generation Vietnamese American, it's an emotional project," said Betty Duong, Vietnamese American Service Center Program Manager. "It is absolutely a labor of love."
Duong’s parents came to San Jose as refugees in the late 70's relying on social services. As a kid, she often translated for them. She hopes no other kid will have to do that.
"We will be staffed with bilingual staff speaking Vietnamese and Spanish to not only serve the Vietnamese American community but our neighbors," said Duong.
The center is open to everyone. Neighboring residents can use it as well. County leaders said the project cost $50 million.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.