Supporting Small Businesses…Saturday

Small businesses have and will continue to play a vital role in helping communities thrive. In the past small businesses have typically been our local bakery, florist, dry cleaners, barber shop, candy store, and the pizza and sandwich shop. Present day, small businesses now include online artisan and jewelry boutiques, clothing stores, food trucks, pop-up shops, nail salons, and pet walkers, to name a few.

To honor the contributions small businesses make to help sustain local communities, and to encourage local spending, American Express’ Small Business Saturday hopes to inspire you to “Shop Small.” Recognized every Saturday after Thanksgiving and during National Entrepreneurship Month, it’s a way to boost local commerce and celebrate the passion and drive of small business owners. Here are a few ways you can participate.

Shop Local

“Get up, get out and shop small” on Saturday, November 25th to support your local businesses. In many towns across America people have side gigs and side hustles to augment their income. And, some have decided to leave their nine to five to purse their passion. So, if you know someone who has taken that leap of faith, perhaps started an online business or has a small store front, make an effort to stop by and support their business. This is also an ideal way to begin your holiday shopping because people love gifts that are locally made.

Got a Business? Get Registered

At small businesses I’ve supported, I noticed they have signage indicating they are registered as a Small Business Saturday merchant. If you are a small business owner, consider registering as a Small Business Saturday merchant, order a kit, and show the community you’re open for business, particularly on that day. Word of mouth is still the best way to attract more customers.

Organize a community Pop-up

Support local businesses by organizing a vendors’ pop-up to allow the local smoothie and coffee business, artisans, bakers, farmers, jam and cheese makers and others to sell their goods. In addition, perhaps invite a local restaurateur to host a community taste test while neighbors shop.

Get Entrepreneurial Fever

Do you think you have what it takes to work for yourself? Not sure? Check out AARP’s small business resources to find out if starting a business is right for you. We also have free online tools and resources at to help you with marketing, financing and developing your business plan. You can also check out the Small Business Administration to learn more about starting a business.

AARP helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for and equips Americans 50 and older to live their best lives. Discover all the ways AARP can help you, your family and your community at AARP.

Photo: AARP

Also of Interest

10 Tips to Starting a Home Business

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Turn Your Hobby into a Business

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Meet Jenny V. Jensen of AARP’s Georgia State Office

Meet Jenny V. Jensen of AARP’s Georgia State Office

Jenny Jensen is a child of the Vietnam War — or at least, end of the war. She was born in April of 1975 in Bangkok, Thailand, while her father was in Saigon “when the city went to hell in a handbasket.”

“I am what is called a third culture kid,” she says. “My father worked for the State Department, which is why he was in Southeast Asia.”

When her family moved to the U.S., she became an American citizen, but she continued to move all over the world. Her family was back in Thailand in the late 1980s and early ’90s. “Most of the American kids hung out in the red light district,” she recalls.

Jensen’s mother is Thai Chinese, whose grandparents migrated from China. Her great grandfather passed away at the age of 108 in 1987 when she was 13, so she grew up understanding her cultural roots. When she comments that her aunt sometimes slips into Mandarin when she’s on the phone, Jensen admits she hasn’t kept up her language skills. “Oh no, no, no, I don’t speak Chinese. It’s very easy to do, if you don’t use the language you lose it.”

She’s spent the past few years in the American South, where one might have even less of a reason to speak Mandarin. She was in Raleigh, N.C., and then last year she moved to Atlanta to take the role as Sr. Program Assistant for AARP’s Georgia State Office. She describes her job as being a “Jill of all trades, a little bit of everything.”

She helps manage the state office’s volunteers, including the volunteer portals for the Georgia’s 40 active chapters. “For some chapters, it’s like a social group,” she says, but a social group that focuses on AARP’s issues for 50-plus Georgians.

One aspect of living and working in the South that she’s still getting used to is the accent … coming from Asians. “The Southern drawl, it is bizarre. You’ve got someone who is very Asian looking and yet he has a twang,” she adds with a chuckle.

There are more Asians in the South than you might expect, though. Maybe speaking Mandarin could be helpful after all.

“There is a very large pop of Asian-Americans. It was really nice to discover that,” she says. “A very large Chinese population — in fact, there is a dragon boat festival here in Lake Lanier. Also, very large Laotian and Thai population in southern Atlanta, Vietnamese. Little bit of everybody here. Buford Highway is a road that has every ethnic restaurant and grocery store you can imagine. It’s a really cool place to be Asian-American.”

Jensen boasts of two Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) volunteers who she works with in the Driver Safety classes, a Korean a South Asian who is the lead volunteer for Driver Safety in the state.

Being biracial sets her apart from even other AAPIs, because of her appearance. Biracial Asians are familiar with the quizzical looks they get from people. “I still deal with that, even at the ripe old age of 42,” she admits. “People think it’s something they can just walk up and ask you.

“A photographer at an event asked where I was from. I said I was from Raleigh, N.C. He said, ‘No, where are you really from?’” After she explained her ethnic heritage, she laughs, “He said, ‘Oh, you look Hispanic.’

“I find it very odd. Maybe this is how people are in the states. Quick to assume, and assign you an identity they’re familiar with.”

She takes it all in stride, though. She’s been a walking example of diversity from the moment of her birth, after all.

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Recognizing Veterans and Entrepreneurs

During this National Entrepreneur Month, we not only recognize the tenacity of small business owners, but our veterans who took the leap of faith to open a small business. While November is widely known as a time our country honors and recognizes the contributions veterans made to our country, it’s also a moment we acknowledge the impact entrepreneurs have made to our economy; both adding valuable contributions to our country.
Becoming an entrepreneur is challenging and rewarding, all at the same time. Sometimes it requires you to take that leap of faith by moving from fear to faith and taking the plunge to do that thing you’ve been wanting to do for a long while – but you just couldn’t figure out the right time to do it! Perhaps, now is the time. If you’re interested in getting your business started but don’t know where or how to get started, here are few things to consider:
Make a plan/Attend trainings, workshops or webinars. To get started, register now for the free AARP From Passion to Profit, Part 2: Veteran Entrepreneurship Webinar on November 9th at 3PM EST. During this session, moderated by SBA’s Jamie Wood, panelists Lee Dougherty (Founder, Operation Rally Point), Joseph Parker (Founder, iN2STEM Solutions, Inc.) will discuss the challenges and rewards of being a small business owners, as well as how they used their military skills to start a business. Gaea Honeycutt (Founder, Hypatian Institute, Inc.) and Charles McCaffrey (Director, Veterans Business Outreach Center), who work with veterans, will highlight resources and support available for veteran entrepreneurs. Organizations such as AARP, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA); Veteran Affairs GI Bill; Bunker Labs; and the Urban League’s Entrepreneurship Program, all have training programs and/or offer funding to assist aspiring veteran business owners. Or, attend an event during SBA Veterans Small Business Week to learn more about becoming an entrepreneur.
Talk to an expert. I’m sure you know someone in business who has experienced the highs and lows of being a business owner. Reach out and request time to chat to ask about their experiences and how they got started; particularly if they are in your desired industry. Ask them about the challenges and successes of being a business owner and being your own boss. From there you can determine if starting a small business is right for you.
Get a mentor. The SBA has great resource partners such as SCORE, a group of retired business executives, to offer persons in business or interested in starting a business one on one assistance to help you get and stay on track. SCORE mentors are located in most cities though the US and have a proven track record helping entrepreneurs be successful.
Get funded. Funding is one of the most common road blocks to getting your business off the ground. There are a number of non-traditional ways to get funded through entities such as, KIVA, Fundera and Community Development Funding Institutions (CDFI) looking to help your business build and grow. Consider seeking an angel investor(s) and/or fundraising through GoFundMe to get people interested in supporting your business.
Don’t let failure stop you. Studies show that many businesses fail in the first 5 years. This may not apply to you, so do not let that discourage you. Launching a small business takes risk and fortitude to see your dream become a reality. Be committed to moving from idea to “open for business.”
Support small businesses. The challenges and rewards of self-employment are partly due to the support of fellow business owners. Take a moment on Small Business Saturday, November 25th to support small businesses. Remember, their survival depends on you.
AARP helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for and equips Americans 50 and older to live their best lives. Discover all the ways AARP can help you, your family and your community at AARP.
Photo: AARP
Also of Interest
Veteran Gig Entrepreneur
Turn Your Hobby Into a Business

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‘A Filipino American Story’

‘A Filipino American Story’

We’re excited to present A Filipino American Story — an animated video presenting the pivotal moments of courage, sacrifice, and triumphs of Filipino Americans since 1587 and how they paved the way for the current generation shaping the future today. This story is powered by NextDayBetter and AARP AAPI Community for Filipino American History Month.

FOLLOW US for more Filipino American stories throughout Filipino American History Month. We will also share stories of Filipino American disruptors in a range of disciplines from community activism to tech entrepreneurship. These forward-thinking individuals are trendsetters, trailblazers, and problem-solvers in their respective fields, helping to push America and the Filipino American community forward through their leadership, creativity, and innovation.

To learn more about Filipino American history, please visit the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) website at

We are deeply thankful to over 40 organizations and individuals who helped make this storytelling initiative possible. If you have any further questions, please contact #FAHM #FAHM2017 — with NextDayBetter.

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Jeanette Arakawa’s ‘The Little Exile’ tells the story of Japanese American incarceration

Jeanette Arakawa’s ‘The Little Exile’ tells the story of Japanese American incarceration

The historical story of the Japanese American incarceration during World War II is still not well-known in mainstream American culture and literature. When it comes to books, there are only a handful that are based on JAs’ wartime experience. The 1994 novel Snow Falling on Cedars is the most familiar to non-JA audiences (in large part because of the 1999 Oscar-nominated Hollywood film version).

Now, we can add to this short list The Little Exile by Jeanette Arakawa, a first-time author who couches her memoir in a fictionalized novel.

The fiction framing serves the story well, and gives Arakawa the creative freedom of shaping the narrative and dialogue for a sweeping, epic look at her family’s history that starts in pre-war San Francisco and ends as her family returns to the Bay Area after the war, upon leaving the Rohwer concentration camp in Arkansas. Yet, that history is told in exquisite vignettes, as if she’s savoring one memory at a time, turning them over like a Rubik’s Cube in her mind and then lining up the colors before moving on to the next memory.

That may be because Arakawa, who was a child when she and her family were incarcerated, didn’t start out planning to write a book about her experience.

She had been writing, but not fiction. “I was pretty good with grammar and I could write essays. I never wrote for pleasure, so to speak.”

Her introduction to writing about being Japanese American came for a contest. “(The) Hokubei Mainichi (newspaper) had a essay contest. I saw a car that had no license plate but said ‘Pearl Harbor survivor,’ and I had a reaction and ducked under the dashboard.” So she explored her feelings about Dec. 7, 1941.

“I wrote this thing and called it ‘Pearl Harbor Survivor’ and in the process of writing it I added the background of the camp experience. That was like the first time something I wrote was published. I think I won second place or something.”

After her husband retired, the couple began traveling. “I started writing stories about our trips. I would pass them out to my friends. So I thought I would polish up my writing skills.”

She lives near Stanford so she signed up for a continuing ed program for writing skills. “The instructor wanted us to write something about an unusual life experience. I wrote something about camps.”

“The instructor asked, ‘did this really happen?’”

The writing teacher’s parents were professors, and he had gone to school in Little Rock, Arkansas, the state where Arakawa’s family was imprisoned during WWII. But this was the first time he had heard about camps. “He got so upset and said ‘you have to write this in a book,’” he counseled. “That was like 15 years ago.”

“I never faced discrimination in the neighborhood of recent immigrants where I was born. Further, by birthright, I have always thought of myself an American, just like most of my friends who were also born of immigrant parents. (This was demonstrated when I tried to correct my taunters in my new neighborhood. (Page 40 in the book.) I didn’t feel I wasn’t American, I felt that others didn’t regard me as such.

“That started with our move out of our immigrant neighborhood and reinforced by the treatment we received during the war. I believe my work with textbooks was fueled by my strong sense of identity, although severely challenged by internment, to ultimately prevail as an adult.”

Arakawa recounts the years in concentration camps, but unlike other books about the JA experience, she continues the story into the year she spent in Denver, before her family decided to return to the West Coast.

“We stopped in St. Louis on the way to Denver,” Arakawa says. “It was a shock to no longer see nothing but Asian faces. It was like we had come to a foreign country or something.”

As an adult, she became part of the Bay Area’s JA community, and was asked to speak to schools about her experiences.

In the late ’60s and ’70s she was elected to the position of Palo Alto PTA Council Human Relations Chair, and organized a task force for evaluating textbooks for a diverse perspective. She co-authored a handbook on evaluating books for multicultural content.

“One of reasons we aren’t seen as Americans is because we don’t appear in textbooks,” she says. “Our committee went to Sacramento and we had this clause added to the education code that all books be evaluated for multicultural perspective.”

That perspective — being open to all people — drives the narrative of Little Exile.

And, makes it a terrific addition to the JA library.

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Congratulations to AARP’s 2017 AAPI Heroes!

Congratulations to AARP’s 2017 AAPI Heroes!

AARP is proud to announce the winners of its 2nd Asian American and Pacific Islander Community Hero Awards that were created to acknowledge the hard-working staff and volunteers of non-profit organizations serving AAPIs age 50-plus.

We received 61 nominations from around the country including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Washington, DC.

The stellar submissions included executive directors, staff, and volunteers who work in healthcare, housing, social services, education, and media. Ten finalists were selected by AARP; the winners were chosen by AARP AAPI Facebook visitors.

These three AARP Asian American and Pacific Islander Community Hero Award winners and their organizations will each receive a $1,000 cash prize:

Dilafroz Nargis Ahmed
Desi Senior Center Director
India Home
Glen Oaks, N.Y.

Dilafroz Nargis Ahmed has helped new immigrants in the Bangladeshi community in Queens, New York for three decades. At Desi senior center India Home, Ahmed works to improve the quality of life of vulnerable South Asian seniors in a culturally appropriate environment. Since 2014, Ahmed has strived to make India Home a comfortable place for immigrant seniors to come together, adjust to living in a new country, and build community. Ahmed also helps Bangladeshi older adults access services and find jobs.

(Photo by Jacques-Jean Tiziou/

Shongchai Hang
Outreach Worker
South East Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition

Shongchai Hang has been dedicated to serving Southeast Asian refugee and immigrant elders for more than 30 years. For the past 11 years, Hang has worked as SEAMAAC’s Lao Outreach Worker to help diverse low-income communities in Philadelphia. At weekly Elders Gatherings, he plays an integral role in building bridges between elders from diverse communities. He helps community members to see their own leadership potential, by recruiting and supporting Lao elders to serve on SEAMAAC’s Elders Council. Hang also helps seniors apply for social services and navigate the health care system. Hang’s ability to speak Lao, Hmong, Thai, and English allows him to serve a diverse groups of seniors.

Linda Mayo
Founder and President Emeritus
Pan-American Concerned Citizens Action League (PACCAL)
Jersey City, N.J.

Linda Mayo has served the local Filipino & Asian American community for more than 30 years. In 1992, Mayo found PACCAL, the first organization in Jersey City to address the health and human service needs of Filipinos and other Asians with a focus on senior citizen and veterans programs. It holds the distinction of being the only Asian Provider Agency recognized by the Hudson County Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Office on Aging. PACCAL is a multi-service organization that organizes social and recreational activities for seniors, assists seniors and veterans apply successfully for affordable housing, coordinates citizenship and voter registrations, helps victims of domestic violence, and holds education, art and cultural workshops.

“Congratulations to Dilafroz, Shongchai, Sharon, and Linda for their exemplary contributions and dedication to our seniors,” said Daphne Kwok, AARP Vice President of Multicultural Leadership, Asian American and Pacific Islander Audience Strategy. “They are unsung heroes who every day are improving the lives of seniors and their families. They devote their time, talents, and passion to making a difference not only to the elders and their families but to the greater community. AARP commends all of our 2017 Heroes and all of those who were nominated for inspiring each and every one of us.”

Congratulations once again to our 2017 AAPI Heroes, and to their organizations!

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