Note: One of the video clips attached to this article is in Mandarin Chinese.
Cupertino residents may remember the suicide of a alumna, Diana Chien, in 2004. Seven years later, Chien's mother, Hung Wei, is one of the 2011 CREST (Cupertino Recognizes Extra Steps Taken) Award winners for her notable contributions to the community, especially to high school students.
The community service that Wei performs that possibly most touches her heart is the time she spends on behalf of high school students. As a board member of both the Asian-American Parent Association and Fremont Union High School District, it’s likely she works more closely with the students than other board members.
Since 2008, Wei has volunteered in fundraising for Monta Vista Senior All-Night Party and serves as an adviser for the Monta Vista High School student-run publication, Verdadera. She founded the publication in 2005 with the principal's approval as a tribute to her deceased daughter, who committed suicide in her sophomore year of college in New York at age 19.
"Teenagers need an outlet," said Wei. "Verdadera is meant to let them know they are not alone."
According to Wei, Verdadera inspired Lynbrook High School to start a similar publication, Aletheia. Both publications are committed to raising awareness about prevalent issues in the lives of high school students.
"I'd like all the five high schools of our district to have this kind of publication," Wei said.
With the student staff of Verdadera under her supervision, Wei writes superb English herself, though English is not her first language.
Councilman Orrin Mahoney, a past president of , recognized Wei's record of community service and nominated her for the CREST Award.
Wei encourages others, especially those who have grown children like herself, to get involved with community service through church, the Rotary Club or the Lions Club.
"Giving is receiving," said Wei. "When you give back, you make friends, you make the community better, and make your own life better, too."
Wei was born in Taiwan. She first came to America after receiving her bachelor's degree in Foreign Languages and Literature from National Taiwan University—considered the “Harvard” of Taiwan. She went to the University of California-Los Angeles for graduate school.
As soon as Wei earned her master's degree in Teaching English as a Second Language, she moved to Silicon Valley with her then-newlywed husband for his engineering career.
As for her own career, instead of using her degree to teach, Wei obtained a real estate agent's license for the job's flexible hours, which allowed her to care for her family.
Wei and her husband, Ta-Wei Chien, had three children before their first-born committed suicide. Now their two other children, both sons, are grown. The youngest is already in college.
Her community involvement, volunteer work and commitment make for a long list.
Wei serves as a board member of the Fremont Union High Schools Foundation, which raises funds for the five high schools in the district. She is also a board member of the Asian-American Parent Association, which provides mini-grants to high school teachers in the Fremont Union High School District, student scholarships to eighth-grade students in the five middle schools in the Cupertino Union School District and free seminars to parents.
Wei also volunteers at Butter Paddle, a nonprofit gift shop in Los Gatos. Butter Paddle is run completely by volunteer,s with all profits benefiting EMQ Families First, a private, nonprofit organization that serves children at risk in Santa Clara County.
In addition, Wei co-chaired the first Annual Bridge to Health Run of the Northwest YMCA with approximately 230 runners or walkers. She is on the board of managers of the Northwest YMCA. Wei is also an active member of the Cupertino Rotary Club. She has served as club service chairwoman and Eastern Elegance co-chairwoman, is on the Cupertino Rotary Board and co-chairs the c.
Editor’s note: Wei opened up to Cupertino Patch about how she coped with her only daughter's death and channeled her pain into a loving heart for all teenagers. The video clips of her speeches in English and Chinese are attached to this article.