A Southeast Asia Christmas House
Pacific Gateway Center, located in the heart of Chinatown, opened its doors nearly 37 years ago with a mission to provide services to immigrants and refugees primarily from Southeast Asia.
“The core of the company really is to provide social services to the low-income, immigrant, refugee communities as well as to human trafficking victims, to help with everything from job training and acculturation to affordable housing and English as a second language. Pacific Gateway Center really provides a full scope of life skills,” says Rebecca Soon, CCO for Solutions Pacific, a partner of PGC.
Most recently, the organization, under the direction of executive director Dr. Tin Myaing Thein, serves as a culinary, agricultural and retail small business incubator and began providing additional support for small businesses in particular.
“Because the population that we were serving was really starting to mature and find their own voice here in Hawaii, we now provide services to those who wish to start their own business and find their own role as smallbusiness owners,” Soon adds.
In fact, Lemongrass Cafe (83 N. King St.) is owned by PGC, and serves diners Southeast Asian cuisine from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. The restaurant also employs many who have benefited from PGC’s services, and the money raised from the restaurant goes back to supporting the center.
Lemongrass Cafe also is home to the Christmas House, featuring handmade crafts and culinary creations for Christmas gifts and seasonal delights. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. now until Christmas Day.
Aloma Wang Interior Designs has taken on the responsibility of transforming this humble cafe into a winter wonderland.
“The Christmas House is a place where you’ll be able to find little vignettes of decorations that are unique,” says Wang, who has 20 years of interior design experience. “The Christmas House features everything from baked goods such as cheesecake and scones, to custom jewelry and clothing, Christmas ornaments, you name it it’s incredible.”
According to Wang, many of the vendors will be on hand, sharing their crafts, textiles and artwork from Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam, in addition to coffee from Hilo, cranberry cookies from Honolulu and rice pillows and necklaces from Kaimuki.
“The items are made predominantly by women, and I wanted to give them a place where they could sell their goods and shine,” says Wang, who will display her unique one-of-a-kind bracelets made of different beads, sterling silver and faceted glass, as well.
“Most of the monies raised (from the Christmas House) are going back to the small businesses,” Soon explains, noting that the Christmas House really is an initiative to support small businesses and PGC clients. “It’s very difficult for startup businesses to get their first placement. Having the ability to sell their products here gives them what they need to be able to sell their products in more longterm places.”
For more information, call 8517010 or visit pacificgatewaycenter.org.
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