Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Month

In our half hour special "FOX 29 Celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month," Jennifer Lee went out into the community to highlight some amazing AAPI stories in the greater Philadelphia area.

Montgomery County Commissioner Neil Makhija is the first Asian American county commissioner in Pennsylvania. At just 37, he’s leading the county’s Board of Elections.

"I care a lot about the democratic process, making sure that everyone has a voice, so the core thing that I can do through my service is help enfranchise people through their right to vote," said Makhija.

Vietnam Restaurant opened in 1984, and now, 40 years later, the James Beard Foundation is awarding the restaurant with the America’s Classics Award. Benny Lai is a second-generation owner who continues the legacy of his parents Nhu Lai and Thuyen Luu.

"This classic James Beard Award is not just for me, it’s for my whole team, and also for my community who has been supporting us. That's why I want to share this award with the Philadelphia Chinatown community," said Lai.

The Philadelphia Riichi Mah-Jawn Club is cultivating community through mahjong, focusing on the Japanese version of the game.

"My mother always said that when they're shuffling the tiles, that was the best time that they could gossip. Talk about the kids, those kinds of things," said Mike Lee, President of Philly Riichi Mah-Jawn Club. "Now that we've been growing, and we've been sort of traveling a lot, I've been meeting a lot of people and the community of mahjong in America has been amazing."

This November, the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition or SEAMAAC will support voters at the polls with voter protection and translation services.

"Election is the one day in the United States that everyone has just one vote. It’s the great equalizer, as some say," said Thoai Nguyen, CEO at SEAMAAC Inc. "We want to honor that heritage of democracy in America. We do everything we can to protect the sanctity of everyone's right to vote."