News | June 6, 2023
Sands closed out Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in May by inviting Vida Lin, founder and president of the Asian Community Development Council (ACDC) to address corporate Team Members about issues and needs in Southern Nevada’s growing AAPI community.
The May 31 session was part of Sands’ ongoing In Focus DEI Conversation Series, which aims to provide insights into diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) issues from diverse community leaders and experts. Lin’s address followed the May announcement of Sands’ third year of support for ACDC through the Sands Cares community engagement program. Since 2021, Sands has worked with ACDC to support its efforts to provide critical in-language access to social services and health care.
Vida Lin founded ACDC in 2015 with the mission of improving the general well-being of the Las Vegas AAPI community by offering services such as voter registration, census education, health insurance enrollment assistance, citizenship application assistance, vaccination clinics and culturally sensitive food distribution.
She opened the session with an overview of the AAPI community in Southern Nevada, which is the fastest growing demographic in the United States. In Nevada, AAPI groups comprise 13% of the population by the 2020 census count or just under 400,000 individuals. Lin said the count had more than doubled from her arrival in Nevada in the late 1990s.
Touching on the time when Sands began to work with ACDC, Lin recapped the climate that attracted the company’s involvement to address the increasing bias and hate crimes during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People began to avoid AAPI-owned businesses, and then we saw greater instances of verbal abuse and even physical abuse,” she said. “Many in our community work in healthcare, and even as they were working long hours, putting themselves at greater risk for COVID-19, they were being mistreated by those who blamed the virus on us.”
Amid these dire circumstances Vida Lin and her team at ACDC worked to address what they saw as a crucial need for the AAPI community in Southern Nevada – translation services.
“Members of our community speak more than 40 languages, so language services are the underpinning to everything we offer at ACDC, from distributing culturally appropriate food, to helping people access healthcare and insurance to navigating a pathway to citizenship,” she said. “This need only grew during the pandemic when it became critical to provide people with in-language information about public health recommendations, such as social distancing and the COVID-19 vaccines.”
It was during this juncture that Sands began its partnership with ACDC. In 2021, Sands Cares funding enabled ACDC to establish the API Language Link, which facilitates connections to a variety of social services.
“Sands’ support of the API Language Link made it possible for us to bring services to market faster, so we could get the word out to our community members about how to protect themselves from COVID-19, as well as the variety of services ACDC can offer to them.”
Sands followed this initial funding with a contribution in 2022 to help ACDC open the Healthy Asians & Pacific Islanders (HAPI) Medical Center last September. The clinic provides the AAPI community with a 100% bilingual staff to deliver high-quality, in-language care, removing barriers often faced in obtaining health care services and addressing health care needs for a large percentage of uninsured and underinsured people. In May, Sands contributed a third round of funding to support the continued growth of these offerings.
The importance of community partnerships and collaboration was a core theme during Lin’s remarks. She pointed to ACDC’s collaboration with other community organizations that represent the various AAPI populations, such as the Las Vegas Korean Association and the Nevada Chinese Association, acting as the linchpin to making a true difference in people’s lives.
“We are so much stronger when we work together, particularly when it comes to getting the word out to the AAPI community about how we can help. This community relies largely on word-of-mouth to get information, so working together is essential if we want to convince our community members that it’s okay to accept our help. We always say it’s not a hand-out; it’s a step up.”
Lin closed the session with a call for better education about the contributions of the AAPI community to realize a more inclusive future.
“I think the prejudice we saw against the AAPI community during COVID-19 was really just the tip of the iceberg. The way we’re going to overcome that is through better education. We need to help people understand the many contributions we have made and are making to the United States. The stories of our contributions have not been told – people need to see that we are not foreigners. We are partners.”
The In Focus DEI Conversation Series for Sands Team Members is one of the company’s primary DEI initiatives, which aims to build a collaborative and integrated environment in the workplace and at the company’s resorts, remove systemic barriers and create opportunities for underrepresented groups. For more information on DEI at Sands, read the company’s 2022 ESG Report here: https://www.sands.com/2022-environmental-social-and-governance-report/.