Willoughby City resident and 92-year-old volunteer Kay Tang was named Senior Volunteer of the Year at the 2021 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards. This prestigious award comes after Kay was recognised in the North Shore regional ceremony earlier this year.
For the last 24 years, Ms Tang has taught Japanese Folk Dance, Taiwanese Folk Dance and Flower Making at the MOSAIC Multicultural Centre in Chatswood. Although her classes are on hold due to lockdown, her undying passion and dedication to the community are phenomenal.
Through these community classes, Ms Tang provides stimulating cultural and educational activities for Willoughby City residents. As most of the students are first-generation migrants who are homesick, Ms Tang greatly assists their integration into the community while helping them to retain their cultural heritage at the same time.
Many of Ms Tang’s students are also retirees or widows and they’re often timid in the beginning but through her teaching, they soon become more confident. Their participation in a community group provides them with a sense of comradery and new meaning and purpose. As a result, their health and wellbeing are improved.
Ms Tang said, “I’m so pleased to have received this award. Thanks to our Mayor Gail Giles-Gidney who has given me encouragement at the ceremony. I received this award as a representative of the volunteer community at MOSIAC. I’m doing the same amount of work as every other volunteer and this award also belongs to all of the volunteers at MOSIAC.”
For more than two decades, Ms Tang’s folk dance groups have performed numerous times at Willoughby City Council events and cultural festivals. Their performances have become regular features at the City of Sydney’s Matsuri Japanese Festival, Lane Cove Council’s Lunar New Year Celebration and Wollongong’s Nan Tian Temple. When Japanese and Taiwanese government delegates visit Willoughby, members of her traditional dance classes regularly perform for them.
Ms Tang works as an intermediary that brings a number of cultures together. She speaks English, Mandarin and Japanese. She culturally bridges the gap to connect community members and promote harmony. Ms Tang’s outstanding volunteer work inspires other community members to become volunteers and make a contribution to society and Willoughby City Council.
Over the years, Ms Tang has received many awards including:
• International Year of Volunteers 2001 – presented by former Prime Minister of Australia John Howard
• Community Building Award 2007 – presented by former Willoughby City Council Mayor Patrick Reilly
• Volunteer of the Year Award 2017 – presented by Willoughby City Council Mayor Gail Giles-Gidney
• Highly Commended for the Arts and Culture Award of the NSW Premier’s Harmony Medals – SBS Radio covered this recognition and it was broadcast to the Japanese and Chinese communities.