Chuck Chang (張 幸 吉)
西溫莎市, 一個人口约27,000人, 擁有多元文化背景的小城鎮, 位於紐澤西州中部的普林斯頓附近, 在纽约市和費城之間. 該市公立中小學, 被評為紐澤西州最佳學府之一. 市政府在1990年代初期舉辦了一年一度的國際文化節展覽會, 以促進公民對多元文化的認同和喜愛.
由於校區好, 交通方便, 又離求職較易的美東兩個大城市不遠, 許多台籍美國人(簡稱台美人), 包括本人的家庭, 自1980年代以來, 逐漸定居在西溫莎和普林斯頓地區. 作為社區的成員, 我們很想提升我們的能見度, 並和鄰居和平相處, 彼此尊重. 為了促進咱台美人之間的友誼, 加强我們在美國地方上顯示我們的身份和文化, 在没有任何適當的正式社團名稱下, 我們僅用 ”一 群 溫莎區台美人” 自稱的名義, 参加了1990年代初期的各種地方上社區活動.
雖然開始两年我們都能参與社區活動, 但因為我們没有代表任何正式组織, 所以過程中, 曾經遭遇到了一些困擾. 參與以往活動的鄉親中, 有些 人意識到, 為便於今後參與社區活動, 實在有必要成立一個代表西溫莎和普林斯頓地區台美人的地區性小社團. 數位熱心同鄉, 經過幾次開會熱烈討論後, 達成共識, 決定要籌組一個地方性非營利组織. 於是他們開始徵求組織標誌設計, 並從數件設計徵稿中, 選出一件代表性的標誌 (見圖 1 ), 草擬組織章程, 選舉理事會理事和會長後, 終於在1993年5月1日, “溫莎區台美協會(WATAA)” 正式成立, 當時共有66名 初期會員. 隨後在5月30日, 發佈了第一期的“WATAA通訊”.
1994年1月17日, 我們向美國國稅局呈遞申請書, 請求登記WATAA為非營利社團. 經過數次修改組織章程和長達將近一年的審核後, 國税局終於1994年11月28日批准WATAA為税收細則501 (c）(3)中描述的免税社團. 國税局的這項批准, 讓WATAA向前邁進了一大步, 因為它有助於我們向會員和本地區台美工商界人士募款, 增進資源, 讓我們更易於推動各項計劃和活動.
依據前述組織章程和國税局501（c）(3）細則的規定, WATAA在接下來的幾年中, 繼續展開參與社區各項活動. 消息逐漸傳開後, 越來越多居住在西溫莎和附近地區的台美人, 紛紛加入WATAA. 幾年內, 會員增至高達將近170人. 在會員的大力支持和各屆理事會和會長的共同合作努力下, WATAA過去順利完成了下列各項地區性活動:
参加西溫莎市國際文化節展覽會, 提供和銷售台灣各項美食跟飲料，表演鄉土舞蹈，提供台灣旅遊觀光相關資料, 展示手工藝作品, 示範抽籤卜卦 (台灣民俗之一) 等等.
部分會員加入園丁志工團隊, 定期幫忙維護市政府辦公室地區環境 和清除野花雜草.
每年夏天與 “台美公民協會- 紐澤西分會”合辦紐澤西青少年壘球賽, 每年均有數個由紐澤西州, 纽约州, 和賓州, 球員多半是第二代台美人組成的球隊, 前來参加盛會.
於1992年 舉辦西溫莎市市長候選人政見發表會, 為候選人提供平台, 介紹他們在各項社區問題上的立場, 讓台美人選民進一步了解社區事務和投票資訊.
每年舉辦, 或與 “普林斯頓大學台灣學生會”合辦聖誕節晚會, 除會員與家屬同樂外並邀請社區政要為貴賓, 分享樂趣 和交流.
每年夏天舉辦野餐, 並邀請專業人士講解有關遺產規劃, 營養與健康, 人壽保險等等切身問題.
不定期舉辦研討會, 邀請附近警察, 中小學校校長, 和主流媒體記者前來講解有關治安, 種族和諧, 學校教學概況, 和記者生涯之苦樂.
設立獎學金, 經本會評審小組甄選結果, 每年頒與數名本地和附近數所高中, 品學兼優學生(見圖2）.
在 “台灣團隊” 橫條標誌下, 参加一年一度在紐澤西中部舉辦的 “ 防癌募款大遊行”(見圖3）.
如上所示, WATAA成立以後的十幾年中, 實現了許多目標. 然而, 作為一個小型的地區性非營利組織, 我們在後來幾年, 發現願當志工, 擔任理事的會員越來越少. 每屆理事會期滿前, 招募新人接棒時, 困難重重. 為了解决這個問題, WATAA 在2010年7月16日召開了會員大會, 商討此事, 會中並勉強選出了五位新理事. 鑒於理事會成員選舉的困境, 會中有人提議不如終止WATAA的運作. 因此在同年10月9日召開了後續會員大會, 討論和決定WATAA的未來. 該次會議, 會員出席相當多, 發言非常踴躍, 經過激烈爭論後投票結果, 多數票决定终止本組織, 而本會剩餘的資金, 將酌情捐與其他非營利組織. 在接下來的幾年中, WATAA逐漸縮減活動. 新任的理事會於2014年初, 向紐澤西州 和聯邦政府相關單位, 辦理註銷手續. 可惜, 經過21年的歲月和多年的順利運作, WATAA 終於在2014年10月正式解散, 畫下句點.
2017 年10 月12 日
A Brief History of “Windsor Area Taiwanese American Association (WATAA)”
West Windsor, a small town with a population of about 27,000 with diversified cultural background, is located adjacent to Princeton in Central New Jersey, about halfway between New York City and Philadelphia. Historically, the township public school system was rated one of the best in the State. The township also sponsored annual International Cultural Fair in early 1990’s to promote appreciation of diversified cultures among the citizen.
Because of the high quality of education system and easy access to the two major East Coast cities with ample job market, many Taiwanese Americans (TAs), including my family, settled in West Windsor and Princeton areas since early 1980’s. As members of the community, we wanted to be visible, live peacefully, and mutually respect with neighbors. In order to promote the friendship among us and enhance our identity and culture at the local level in America, we, without any formal entity but identified ourselves “A Group of Windsor Area Taiwanese Americans”, participated in various local community activities in early 1990’s.
Although we were able to participate in the community programs during the previous two years, we encountered some difficulties since we did not officially represent any organization. Several of those individuals involved in the previous activities realized that a formal local organization representing TAs residing in West Windsor and vicinity areas is justified to facilitate the programs in the future. They met a few times, and a consensus was reached to form a non-profit organization. Following a few brain –storming sessions, a logo (See Figure 1) was selected from several designs, By-Laws was drafted, members of the Board of Directors (BOD) were elected, and the West Windsor Area Taiwanese American Association (WATAA) was officially formed on May 1, 1993 with 66 initial members. Subsequently, the 1st issue of WATAA Newsletter was issued on May 30.
On January 17, 1994, an application was submitted to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to designate WATAA as a tax exempt organization. Following a lengthy review and revisions of the By-Laws, WATAA was finally approved by IRS on November 28, 1994 as a tax exempt organization described in Tax Rules Section 501 (c) (3). It was a big step forward for WATAA since it helps us to solicit financial support from its members and local TA small business owners, which, in turn, put us in a better financial position in executing our programs.
WATAA continued to function actively in the following years in accordance with the guidelines stated in the By-Laws and the IRS 501 (c) (3) rules. As words spread around, more and more TAs residing in West Windsor and the vicinity areas subsequently joined WATAA membership, and, in a few years, its members increased to a peak of around 170. With the strong support of its members and the joint effort of the Board of Directors, WATAA conducted various local activities in the past as highlighted below:
- Participated in West Windsor Township International Cultural Fairs, presented gourmet Taiwanese food/drinks, folk dance, tourist information, and demonstrated one of the traditional Taiwanese fortune telling practices, etc.
- Served as volunteer gardeners in the periodical maintenance (weeds removal, etc.) of Township office complex area
- Co-sponsored New Jersey Youth Invitational Softball Tournaments in summer with Taiwanese American Citizen League-NJ Chapter (TACL-NJ), participated by several teams (mostly TA players) from NJ, NY and PA.
- Sponsored West Windsor Mayor election candidate night (1992) providing a forum for candidates to present their positions on various community social issues.
- Sponsored or co-sponsored annual Christmas Parties with Princeton University Taiwanese American Student Association and shared the joys of the events with invited local elected officers as honorable guests .
- Sponsored annual picnics in summer, and invited experts to speak on various subjects such as estate planning, nutrition and health, life insurance, etc.
- Sponsored seminars and invited local law enforcement officers, school superintendents and stuff of local mainstream newspapers to address racial and career related subjects.
- Awarded scholarship to selected top students in several local high schools (See Figure 2).
- Participated in annual Susan G. Komen Central and South Jersey “Race for the Cure” parades under a “Team Taiwan” sign (See Figure 3).
- Sponsored concerts featuring Taiwanese music and songs.
As shown above, WATAA achieved many of its goals during the first decade since its inception. As a small local non-profit organization, however, we experienced some difficulties in recruiting voluntary successors willing to serve the BOD in the last few years. To resolve the problem, a general meeting was called on July 16, 2010 to discuss the issue and, as a result, a new team of BOD was elected. In view of the problem in the BOD election, voices suggesting to terminating WATAA operation was also heard during the meeting. A follow-up meeting was then called on October 9, 2010 to discuss the future of WATAA. The meeting was well attended, and, following a heated debate, it was decided by majority votes to terminate the organization and the remaining fund will be distributed to other local non-profit organizations.
WATAA began to winding down its activities gradually in the following years. In 2014, the new BOD proceeded to cancel WATAA registration with the State and Federal regulatory agencies. The organization, unfortunately, was officially dissolved in October 2014 after 21 years of active and successful operation.
(Note: The author is the first president of WATAA)
October 5, 2017
Figure 1. WATAA Logo
Figure 2. The author with scholarship recipients (6/9/04)
Figure 3. “Race for Cure” parade (10//04/09)
Source from Dr. C. Chang 10/2017
Posted in 10/2017