Vietnamese businesses give back to those on front lines of COVID-19 pandemic

Community Over Crisis

SALT LAKE COUNTY (ABC4 News) – As a result of COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of Vietnamese nail salon and beauty supply employees across our state are out of work. Some said they are fearful to leave the house due to an increase in reported xenophobic attacks. But through a new big service project, they’ve found a way to channel all of those feelings into something positive.

Sister Huong Wang and Tammy (Nguyen) Luu are two Taylorsville business owners who were impacted by the Salt Lake County Health Department’s mandate to temporarily close down all non-essential businesses. Wang owns Top Nail & Hail Beauty Supply and Luu owns Jasmine Beauty Supply.

“It was difficult economically. It’s hard for us and also for our employees. We have a very large connection with all the salon owners here in Utah and we know it’s very hard for them as well,” said Wang. “But for the safety and health of everyone, we know it’s something we have to do to do our part to slow this pandemic down.”

Several members in the local Asian American community told ABC4 News earlier this week they were fearful to leave their homes because of an increased report in xenophobic attacks related to misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Everyone is very worried, I know. When I think about leaving, I’m also very worried,” Hue Nguyen told ABC4 News in Vietnamese. “When I went to the store on Monday, I wore a mask and I saw others avoiding me when they looked at me. They went to another aisle because they didn’t want to get close to me.”

As a way to boost morale and ease anxiety for their community members, Wang and Luu decided to spearhead a big service project to encourage furloughed workers to sew masks and other businesses to donate extra supplies. After posting a call-to-action on social media, Nguyen joined their efforts.

“This is the time when mostly everyone is out of work, especially nail technicians and hair stylists. So they’re pretty thankful that we brought some work for them to do. They feel like this contribution is very worthwhile,” said Nguyen.

Nguyen rallied several of her friends and together with Wang and Luu’s group, they’ve donated their own money to buy supplies and sewn approximately 700 face masks to donate to healthcare workers and first responders on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through their efforts, they’ve also wanted to eliminate the stigma around wearing face masks.

“I think these contributions during this time are things that we should do because it shows that we care. I feel very happy when I’m doing this. I think this is an act where we could repay them for what they’ve done for us. They’ve sacrificed so much, even their own personal safety,” said Nguyen.

Wang said so far they’ve donated 13,000 surgical masks, 15,000 gloves, hundreds of hand sanitizer bottles, and dozens of alcohol bottles, disinfectant wipes, and disinfectant spray.

“Since pretty much all salons are closed now, we don’t really have the use for it. We just need very little for our personal use to go out to the stores and things like that,” said Wang. 

Luu said they donated some of their own money to purchase more supplies but experienced some challenges along the way.

“I called around to some of the manufacturers and they’re all running out. We finally tracked down one that would make it for us,” she said. “Everything also went up in pricing, triple of what it used to be.”

Their group consists of volunteers as young as 9 years old and as old as 83 years ago. They said an act of kindness, no matter how small or big, benefits everyone in the end.

“We just want to encourage everyone to do one good deed. Doesn’t matter if it’s following orders of social distancing or doing something nice for a stranger. If all of us contributed, it would make everything better and help us get through this pandemic sooner,” said Wang.

She added, “This is definitely a wake-up call that there are things that are more important in life, like spending time with your loved ones and helping others.”

Their family also owns Rollz and Bowls in Taylorsville, which donated 65 meals to St. Mark’s Hospital, Unified Police Department, and Unified Fire Authority.

Their donations will be given to hospitals, care centers, nursing homes, police stations, and fire departments.

For more information, visit their Facebook page here.

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