Founded by a group of Christians in 1997, the Light and Salt Association (LSA) is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) community-based organization with the mission of uniting the manpower and resources of Houston’s Chinese community to provide competent linguistically and culturally appropriate care and services to needy Houstonians. LSA’s name and mission takes its inspiration from Jesus’s teaching for people to strive to be the “light” and “salt” of their communities (Matthew 5:13-14). The goal of LSA is to provide culturally-appropriate support to Chinese cancer patients and their families, as well as families with special needs concerns, helping people overcome linguistic and cultural barriers to accessing resources, expressing their needs and concerns, and feeling more comfortable discussing their thoughts and problems in a supportive community environment. Through raising awareness and offering access to educational opportunities, social services, and healthcare resources, LSA aims to create a supportive Chinese-American community that will serve those who experience disparity or disadvantage in their ability to gain knowledge and access to healthcare resources and social support programs.
Since its inception, LSA has sponsored multiple annual community events, such as: parents’ day celebrations, winter clothing drives, and special days with seniors. LSA has also mobilized the Chinese community to raise relief funds for victims of natural disasters, including: Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China, the 2009 Typhoon Morak in Taiwan, and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti).
LSA established the Cancer Support Network (CSN) in 2001, the first Chinese cancer support program in the Houston area, to provide culturally sensitive support to Chinese cancer patients and their families and help them feel more comfortable discussing their thoughts and concerns. The CSN’s services include two monthly support group meetings (one for all types of cancer survivors and one for breast cancer survivors), a cancer helpline, follow-up phone calls, home and hospital visits, healthcare and social services navigation, and other treatment-related services, such as transportation and language assistances. We also compile and translate cancer-related educational materials into Chinese such as the Houston Chinese Cancer Resources Guide and the Breast Health Resource Directory. To raise public awareness on cancer-related issues, each year we organize cancer seminars or workshops, volunteer/caregiver training workshops, and cancer screenings for early detection, such as mammograms and Hepatitis B screenings.
In 2007, with funding from the Susan G. Komen-Houston Affiliate, LSA established the first breast cancer support program targeting Chinese women in the greater Houston area. The program provides psychosocial support to women diagnosed with breast cancer through monthly support group meetings and one-on-one peer support. We also conduct community outreach programs focusing on cancer prevention and the importance of early detection. Currently, CSN has about 120 cancer survivors on the mailing list. In 2008, our programs and services made a difference in the lives of more than 5,000 people in greater Houston area.
In 2006, LSA produced a weekly Mandarin radio program (broadcast every Monday) with the goal of spreading positive messages and promoting a healthy lifestyle in the Chinese community. In March 2009, several volunteers launched a Cantonese radio program aimed toward the Cantonese-speaking population in the greater Houston area. The radio program runs four days a week (Tuesday to Friday) and is the only Cantonese radio program in Houston. Both radio programs air on AM 1320, from 10:30 to 11:00 am. Some of the radio programs can be accessed through our websites: www.light-salt.org and http://fly1320.webnode.com/.
In early 2008, several parents with special-needs children felt the need to form a linguistically-appropriate program to provide a community of mutual support and information sharing. Accordingly, the Special Needs Caring Center (SNCC) was established, with the goal to improve the quality of life among people affected by physical and intellectual disabilities and to increase public awareness about the day-to-day issues these families face. There are 36 families currently on our mailing list. SNCC offers monthly support group meetings for both parents and their children. In 2009, with funding from the United Way of Greater Houston, a hand chime chorus was formed for the older children. Since SNCC’s inception, the chorus has performed at several major local events and churches. Our volunteers also provide the care of follow-up phone calls and home visits, as well as resources referrals.