2000 – 2001 Legion Year Review
By PPC Wing Y. Tam
Time and tide wait for no man. This year marks the 60th Anniversary of the Lt. B.R. Kimlau Chinese Memorial Post #1291. As we commemorate this milestone, our post will publish a special journal. I was told to write a brief report of my service as Post Commander.
I am grateful to my staff and the officers for their support, as it would not have been possible, to fulfill my mission. As post commander, every decision made, every executive action taken, was for the membership to have the tools and conditions, to build on our dream of a stronger, and safer society, and a more prosperous American Legion organization.
The following are the two most important projects accomplished during my term:
1 – The initial filing of Form 990. Since inception, the American Legion Lt. B.R. Kimlau Chinese Memorial Post 1291, and the Chinese American Veterans Memorial Building Committee New York Inc. (CAVMBC) had never filed IRS Form 990. According to IRS Tax Code 501(c)(19)- Tax exempt non-profit organizations: each organization must file Form 990, to report annual incomes and expenses.
In order to fulfill this mission, I initiated meetings with our Compliance Committee. We worked together, in analyzing the IRS Tax Code 501(c)(19). After several months of study, the committee determined that: (1) The Compliance Committee members should attend a tax seminar held by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA). Mr. Bernard Pao, then CPA of CCBA invited the staff of IRS North Regional Office, to explain the reasons for filing Form 990 for non-profit organizations. (2) The inquiry of a licensed CPA opinion. (3) The retention of an attorney, with a specialty in tax exemptions for non-profit organizations.
Following his detailed analysis of our financial records and the By-Laws, the attorney offered his recommendations. (1) All financial routines should be in strict compliance. The IRS Tax Code 501(c)(19) clearly prescribed that no profit shall be shared with the directors, officers, and or members of organization. (2) The combined of the By-Laws of the American Legion post and the CAVMBC. (3) The filing of a single set of Form 990 to include both the American Legion and the CAVMBC. (4) The marking of the filing status ”INITIAL” for Form 990. (5) To submit a request for property tax reduction, from the NYC Department of Finance after three consecutive filings of Form 990, as the American Legion is exempt from Federal Taxes, and occupied part of the building.
Subsequent to our discussion about the attorney’s recommendations, all the members agreed to follow his advice. During the general membership meeting, I explained why we needed to file Form 990, why we had to begin stricter accounting procedures, and asked for cooperation in order to build a stronger organization.
On September 2000, we submitted the initial filing of Form 990. We were very lucky because the IRS did not question the filing. After three consecutive filings, we sent an application for property tax reduction to the NYC Department of Finance on July 2004. Two months later, we received approval of partial tax reduction from NYC, effective July 1, 2004.
I really appreciate all the members of the Compliance Committee: Fang A. Wong, Frank Gee, Theodore Leong, Wan Y. Tam, Richard Shin, Hong C. Chin, John Yee, Joseph Wong, Roy Eng, Ging F. Louie, and Jamason Wu. I could not have fulfilled my goals without their cooperation and efforts.
2 – Establishing the Tai Chi For Life Program: Ms. Ailee Kuk Tsang, Community Liaison of NYU Downtown Hospital (NYUDH) and Ms. Henrietta Ho-Asjoe, then Director of the Chinese Community Partnership for Health (CCPH) of NYUDH met with me. The proposal was that NYUDH would like to install a Tai Chi for Life Program, in the community. They lacked teachers and a place. I thought it was a good idea, as we could provide what they needed, and also meet our goal in “We serve with pride!” I contacted Ms. Ailee Kuk Tsang and Ms. Henrietta Ho-Asjoe. I told them we could provide teachers and a place, without charge. They assured me that they had the volunteer workers and the medical staff to support the program.
Tai Chi for life Program started in February 2001 and is open to the public and to our members without charge. Each class cycle consists of eight (8) weeks, two classes each week and is limited to 15 students per class. The NYUDH medical staff conducts a preliminary check up on each student, i.e. weight, blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol at the beginning of each class cycle for tracking purposes.
We have received many compliments from the community. The student graduates have said that their health had improved. Some of the graduates return to assist the teachers, and teach new students. I am grateful to Mr. Richard Lee, Mr. David Lam, and Mr. Lester Fong. They are the volunteer teachers, and are very patient in teaching the students. Also, I am thankful to Ms. Wai Wah Chung, the NYUDH Nurse, and to Mr. Charles Ho, the volunteer worker.
In conclusion, these two projects were the most memorable during my term as Post Commander. I believe that strong ambition can overcome any hardships!