GARDEN GROVE, Calif. — Cô and chú which is aunt and uncle in Vietnamese is how Vincent Tran is addressing each of his calls. He considers them family, even though they aren’t related.
"Hello uncle, my name is Vincent,” said Tran, the community engagement coordinator at VietRISE, to one caller.
Tran grew up in Little Saigon and moved away to attend UC Berkeley where he took two Vietnamese history classes that changed the course of his life. Tran says what he learned made him want to return and contribute to his community on top of spending time with his aging parents.
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“We want to be there to advocate for them,” said Tran.
After graduating with a political science degree, Tran joined an organization called VietRISE to advance social justice and empower low-income Vietnamese and immigrant communities in Orange County. These communities make up some of the hardest to reach groups when it comes to census data gathering.
Tran is leading a team of five canvassers who were supposed to door knock in four different cities to urge Vietnamese people to fill out the 2020 Census. COVID-19 changed their plans so they started phone banking.
“It’s becoming more and more crucial. The census helps fund the unemployment insurance, how and when hospitals are being built, how many hospitals beds are being allowed for each hospital,” said Tran.
U.S. government agencies look at census data to figure out how to allocate resources. If a community is undercounted, it might not get the volume of help and services it truly needs.
“If we don’t make sure that our communities fill out the census and have a complete count, we don’t know if five or 10 years from now if there is another epidemic if our communities will be as well prepared,” said Tran.
Tran and the VietRISE team will continue to make calls to get as many Vietnamese folks to fill out their census before the July 31 deadline. Their goal is to call and get about 4,200 people to participate in the census.
For more information, visit vietrise.org.