Together with many of our LANtern® lupus members and Advisory Board, the Year of the Dragon was welcomed with a special luncheon in Manhattan’s Chinatown on February 11, 2012. Seventy-two participants filled up the restaurant with excitement, joy and a strong sense of community spirit! “Being able to connect with people who have gone through the same experiences, and knowing that I have a group to reach out to,” was feedback from a participant, which summarized the feelings of many. The pleasure to “see all my lupus friends and learn that they are well,” was a shared sentiment.
Once again, our volunteers, who are LANtern members themselves, did such an amazing job to help build that spirit of a LANtern community at the event! They helped with the registration, photography, engagement of the children who are either lupus patients or whose parents have lupus, and especially the facilitation of group discussions as our LANtern Table Hosts.
Our themed program started warmly by our LANtern Advisory Board members, a lupus sharing by Karen Ng, MPH, and a review on lupus myths and facts by Dr. Cindy Meng Hou. Karen’s story drove home the very message that it was possible to live a vibrant life despite the illness; Cindy’s presentation clarified key facts about lupus as an autoimmune disease. Facilitated by our LANtern Table Hosts at their respective tables, our participants deepened their understanding of each other through their personal sharing over a delicious luncheon.
The participants also seemed excited to learn the activity updates about LANtern: The launch of our LANtern website in bilingual English/Chinese, LANtern (Lupus Asian Network) e-News: Building Community Partnerships for professionals serving the Asian community, community education for the public about lupus, and educational outreach to the professionals as part of LANtern’s public health effort to raise and sustain awareness about lupus. We are also looking forward to the first issue of our LANtern Community Newsletter, intended for our members as a LANtern community building initiative.
Last but not least, the raffle activity was again a hit. A few got lucky with a bakery gift card, a HSS tote bag with goodies, or a book. Lingering over a special cake to wrap up today’s special gathering, we offered best wishes to one another and ideas too for the future. “Thank you so much for this opportunity. People are friendly and food is delicious. “Greatly appreciated!”