My parents were born in New York City. They were raised in Chinatown, and the Lower East Side of Manhattan. As children they had to work their whole life, and grew up less fortunate than my brother and I. They were also both part of the Fresh Air Fund in New York City. In 1877, The Fresh Air Fund, an independent not-for-profit organization, was created with one simple mission – to allow children living in low-income communities to get away from hot, noisy city streets and enjoy free summer experiences in the country.
Eventually Adriene, and William Toy saved up enough money to move out of their railroad style apartment in Chinatown. They purchased their first home in 1975 located in Flushing, New York. They moved into a small attached home with three floors, no basement, and one garage. My next door neighbor was a Sicilian couple who I called Uncle Phil, and Auntie Ann. My mother stopped working when she had her second child, and took on a full-time role as a stay at home mother. A tremendously loving wife was responsible for cooking, house chores, and raising the children. They worked extremely hard to become a middle class family living the American dream.
My parents were raised and married in True Light Lutheran Church located in Chinatown, Manhattan. After moving to Flushing, they had to find a new Church and planned to raise their children as Protestant Christians. We belong to The Church on the Hill located at 167-07 35th Avenue Flushing, New York (member of The Reformed Church of America) Rev. Robert A. Perless was the Pastor of The Church on the Hill for thirty-five years, beginning in 1970 through 2005. I only realized later as an adult, Pastor Perless was one the most inspirational and motivational speakers in my life. Although I don’t attend Church regularly, I’m glad there was structure in my life as a child that helped shape who I am today.
I admire my parents for being the most modest, humble, and selfless people I know today. I can’t thank them enough for sacrificing all they had, to create a greater opportunity for their children.