Asian

Volunteers prepare meals for a drive-thru service at the Sacramento Asian Sports Foundation's Elk Grove complex. 

Local nonprofit The Sacramento Asian Sports Foundation (SASF) was founded 27 years ago to provide youth sports and community programs in Sacramento County. Since those early years, their programs kept its focus on youth and their needs, personal growth, and professional enhancement.

In looking toward the future, the foundation’s new programs will focus on the unserved needs of the community and the mental health, leadership and social skills needed by youths during their challenging pre-teen and teen years, foundation board member Eric Wong said.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and public health guidelines, SASF canceled all of their indoor programs and rentals to other organizations, which dropped revenues to levels that would not sustain the nonprofit. Wong said they quickly moved to apply for grants, holding dinner fundraisers, and continue to investigate other revenue-generating opportunities.

“After the initial shelter-at-home order, and experiencing our own increased levels of home cooking, we concluded that the community would love a kitchen break and a fresh cooked meal,” he said. “Held monthly, our drive-thru, pickup dinners began in July and continue through the end of the year.”

This month, they are offering chow mein meals, followed by crab fried rice in November, and chicken dinners in December.

 “Adhering to public health guidelines and food safety measures, our corps of dedicated volunteer cooks and Board of Directors banded together to serve our community and benefit SASF,” Wong added.

The foundation began 2020 prepared to continue 10 programs and launch two new ones. Perennial programs include summer and fall youth basketball, volleyball, Strive for Strength, the talent show Teens Create Dreams (talent show), job fairs, Sports For Life (SFL) for people with special needs, and Pickleball games for seniors.

SFL is now online with virtual yoga and martial arts. The new programs are Fishing for Smiles for special needs children and those who have experienced medically challenging procedures, and a suicide prevention program.

The program, Suicide Prevention Awareness Reflection Knowledge (SPARK) is for teens, parents, teachers, and school and district staff.

“We have strong support from the lead school district counselors from Sacramento City and Elk Grove unified school districts with the Davis Unified School District in the works,” Wong said. “The counselors tell us that our timing is great in context of the mental health of teens returning to school or doing remote learning during the pandemic. They have observed an increasing need to address student mental health. Our program complements their programs”

Next month, they will be showing an online film, “Angst,” which is about anxiety and depression in teens that features an interview with Olympian Michael Phelps. Screenings will air on Nov. 14-16. It will be followed by an online panel on Nov. 17 and supported by local mental agencies and their crisis phone and text hotlines. One thousand free viewings of the hour-long film will be provided.

For more information about the Sacramento Asians Sports Foundation and their programs, visit www.SASFevents.org or call (916) 391-6000. Their Elk Grove facility is at 9040 High Tech Ct.