Fundraising campaigns launched for Monterey Park victims. Here's how you can help

Fundraising campaigns launched for Monterey Park victims. Here's how you can help

A GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $119,000 for victims of the Monterey Park shooting and their families after a gunman opened fire inside Star Ballroom Dance Studio on Saturday night, killing at least 11 people and injuring several others.

The Southern California branch of Asian Americans Advancing Justice — a legal aid and civil rights organization supporting Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders — launched the Monterey Park Lunar New Year Victims Fund on Sunday for those directly affected by the tragedy. You can donate to the victims fund here.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice created the GoFundMe campaign in collaboration with several other organizations supporting the Asian American Pacific Islander community, including Stop AAPI Hate, the Asian Pacific Community Fund, the Asian American Foundation, Stand With Asian Americans, the AAPI Equity Alliance, the Chinatown Service Center and Gold House.

Gold House, a media and entertainment nonprofit that promotes Asian and Pacific Islanders representation, confirmed Sunday in a statement that a Gold House employee’s family member “is among the victims” of the attack.

“At least 10 individuals killed and many more seriously injured in a shooting spree that occurred just blocks away from a joyous New Year festival where thousands of people gathered,” the campaign description reads.

“Our hearts go out to the victims of this horrific tragedy. All proceeds contributed to the fund will go to the many individuals who are now suffering from this senseless violence.”

Connie Chung Joe, chief executive of the Southern California branch of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, anticipated that donations will help cover expenses such as funeral costs, airfare to transport loved ones to memorial services, medical bills and equipment, potential lost wages and counseling services.

However, the organization is hopeful that local counseling agencies serving the Asian American Pacific Islander community will waive fees for those affected by the shooting.

“There are folks who, immediately when they heard about this tragedy on Sunday morning, they started … asking, ‘Where do we donate to?’” Chung Joe told The Times on Monday.

“There was an immediate demand for it, and we’ve learned that time is of the essence in these situations. … No fees, no nothing is going to be kept by any of the organizations ourselves. All the money donated goes to the victims, but we still need to work out the details.”

A separate GoFundMe campaign has also been launched for the family of Ming Wei Ma, a beloved longtime student of Star Ballroom Dance Studio who died in the shooting. Dariusz Michalski, an instructor at the dance studio, told the Los Angeles Times that Ma helped manage the studio and was known fondly by all as Mr. Ma.

“He … built a community that dearly loved and respected him for his kindness and liveliness,” the campaign description reads. “We are currently asking for donations to help cover the cost of the funeral.”

The campaign for Ma has raised more than $14,000 of its $30,000 goal so far. You can donate to his memorial fund here.

In addition to co-organizing the Monterey Park Lunar New Year Victims Fund, the AAPI Equity Alliance has released a resource directory for Monterey Park victims and community members. The guide contains information about numerous local, state and national resources, such as the Asian Pacific Counseling and Treatment Centers, the Asian Mental Health Collective and Asian Americans Advancing Justice. You can access the resource directory here.

“Regardless of what the shooter’s intent was … people were fearing the worst — that this was another case of anti-Asian hate, another Atlanta massacre,” Chung Joe told The Times.

“There’s been a lot of trauma and fear and anxiety in the community, and so we wanted the community to know that — if they need mental health services or they want to talk to somebody or they need other support, and they need to know how to navigate resources — these are the organizations, these are the services that are out there.”

Because the shooting occurred in a city that is 65% Asian American, Chung Joe emphasized the value of local organizations and resources that can better attend to survivors’ and community members’ specific needs. The first 10 victims were all in their 50s, 60s or 70s, according to the L.A. County coroner.

“These are Chinese immigrants who are seniors and who are limited English proficient, and so … what happens with immigrant communities — and especially seniors who are limited English proficient — they [rely on] a system that’s a little bit separate from mainstream government and service organizations,” Chung Joe said.

“You have all of these folks in the government side … and everyone who wants to help these victims, but there is a bit of a disconnect if you don’t speak the language, and you’re not part of the community, and you’re not trusted as an insider. It can be difficult to provide support because they don’t know you, they’re not comfortable with you. And those language and cultural barriers can be very difficult. … A lot of us community-based organizations who work with Asian American communities know that that happens a lot.”

Beyond donating to the fundraising campaigns and sharing the resource directory, Chung Joe said, allies can help the Monterey Park community and the larger Asian American Pacific Islander community at this time by showing “their support and solidarity.”

She also encouraged Monterey Park community members to call the Asian Americans Advancing Justice’s Cantonese and Mandarin help line at 1-800-520-2356 for legal support.

“Even though this might not be an an incident of anti-Asian hate or a hate crime, it still feels very triggering for our community after everything that’s been happening during the pandemic,” Chung Joe said.

“When folks come to us and express their support and allyship and solidarity the way they did after Atlanta … that still is meaningful. It is an emotional lift for a lot of us.”

Times staff writers Brittny Mejia, Summer Lin, Grace Toohey and Alexandra E. Petri contributed to this report.