Binghamton University’s Center for Civic Engagement will hold a community and cultural event tomorrow that will celebrate the lives of the victims of the shooting that took place at the American Civic Association about two years ago.
The CCE is also aiming to raise money for a proposed memorial park to be built at the ACA, a community center in Binghamton that provides citizenship and language assistance to local immigrants.
On the morning of April 3, 2009, 41-year-old Jiverly Wong, a naturalized citizen who had immigrated to the United States from Vietnam, entered the ACA and fatally shot 13 people and wounded four others, most of whom were immigrants from countries around the world, before taking his own life.
The ACA Memorial Park Fund Fest will be held in the Dickinson Amphitheater from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday and will feature food from a variety of cultures, prize drawings, entertainment and silent auctions. Prizes include gift baskets from or gift certificates to many local eating establishments, clothing stores and hair salons. Student groups that will perform include The Binghamtonics, The Mad Hatters and Anything Goes. In the event of rain, the Fest will be moved into the Old Union Hall. Admission is $5, which will go to benefit the ACA Memorial Park.
Matthew Stevens, a senior majoring in biology, organized the event, which he said he hopes will increase cultural awareness on campus.
“This project could help unify the campus in understanding what happened at the American Civic Association,” Stevens said. “There are student groups that believe in promoting cultural diversity and I really hope students get that message when they leave.”
Stevens has been working with the CCE, Sodexo, the ACA Memorial Park Fund and Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi to plan the event.
Student cultural groups will table at the Fest where they will discuss their contributions to cultural diversity on campus.
“I was listening to the radio one day and heard that the ACA was trying to build this park,” Stevens said. “I spoke with [ACA Project Coordinator] David Marsland before we reached out to the Center for Civic Engagement.”
Marsland said one of his main concerns was ensuring the appropriateness of ideas for fundraising.
“My role has been to provide guidance on what kinds of fundraising ideas would be suitable for the project and the families’ wishes,” Marsland said, and “to find ways to help make the event a reality.”
A committee consisting of family members of the ACA victims is overseeing the creation of the memorial park.
“This team worked together to create a vision for a monument and park,” Marsland said.
According to Marsland, the Park Committee has a goal of involving as many members of the community as possible in the creation of the ACA Memorial Park.
“The Park Committee has been interested in engaging the student body in some kind of participation in the creation of the park for a while,” he said. “This is just the kind of event we hoped might come about.”
Stevens said he met with Kerry Cook, the community engagement coordinator at the CCE, each week for the last two months to plan the event.
“They [the CCE] are trying to increase cultural diversity on campus and raise awareness and money for what they’re doing,” Stevens said.
Stevens, who is a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, said his fraternity will volunteer at Saturday’s Fest. He also said Sodexo has agreed to provide free food for the Fest.
According to Stevens, an anonymous donor has offered to match any contributions made to help build the ACA Memorial Park.
He said that organizing an event of this size was difficult.
“You have to be willing to push something if you believe in it,” Stevens said.
Student groups that are interested in tabling at the event can contact Matt Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot.
Stevens said that the Fest’s organizers are requesting a $25 donation from students who would like to table. Groups that donate $50 will have their name engraved on a brick at the Memorial Park.
More information about the Memorial Park project is available on www.acamemorial.org.