April 8, 2009 > Business leaders support community
Business leaders support community
By Simon Wong
Union City's 50th Anniversary calendar featured three Unsung Heroes in the city's business sector: Gloria Watson of Corinthian Realty, Makhan Bains of Raja Sweets & Indian Cuisine and Teriyaki Experience, and Julie Zhu of Fremont Bank. They were chosen to represent the many business leaders who actively support the community.
Watson moved to Union City in 1972 and became a Fremont resident in 1983. Luckily, her business and community activities remained in Union City.
In 1989, she joined the Union City Lioness Club, and two years later became the first woman to become a Union City Lion. "I broke the barrier," she smiled. "Given that Lions Clubs International is the parent organization, I felt I could achieve more." She serves as advisor to "lions-in-training" - James Logan Leos Club, which volunteers for many community service projects.
"One of the highlights of my community service was travelling to Mexico with Union City Lions Club to provide eyeglasses to people who couldn't afford them." Watson was visibly moved as she recalled the joy and gratitude of recipients who saw their grandchildren properly for the first time.
As Lions Club Secretary and Tail Twister, she keeps things on track and takes every opportunity to raise funds. If someone is not wearing a pin, sings off-key or commits a minor procedural error, she imposes a fine.
This month, Watson was sworn in as a Union City Chamber of Commerce Board member. She is also involved with Union City's 50th Anniversary Celebrations.
"We might have moved to Fremont, but I left my heart in Union City. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I am not really involved with anything in Fremont," apologized Watson unnecessarily. Union City is fortunate to have won her affections.
Bains arrived in Union City in 1985 when he left Jalandhar, India. His hometown later became Union City's sister city. He now lives in Fremont.
He is a quiet man whose sense of community and faith are key to reinforcing his success. He built two restaurant chains and is active in the communities that have accepted and helped him. He has been in business in Union City for almost 16 years and founded Teriyaki Experience last year.
Bains is a Director of the Union City Chamber of Commerce, a Board member of the City's 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee, and on the Sister City Events Committee. He serves in similar positions in Fremont and Hayward and raises funds for political events in all three cities.
He supports community events by donating food, including catering several annual gatherings attended by thousands of people at the Sikh Temple in Fremont.
Almost four years ago, Supervisor Gail Steele appointed him to serve as a Commissioner on the Alameda County Housing & Community Development Advisory Committee, which advises on affordable housing and community development issues.
When asked what inspired his community and political involvement, Bains spoke with a trace of emotion.
"When I left India, I came to Union City because my wife had family here. Thankfully everything went in the right direction. I came to America empty-handed. This community, this country, gave me what I have. So, it is important for me that I always give back to the community one way or another."
Zhu stumbled into banking 20 years ago when she graduated from Oregon State University and joined Fremont Bank. She derives great pleasure from helping others and contributing to the community, and Fremont Bank has given her many opportunities to do so.
"Fremont Bank is a responsible business. We want to build goodwill in the community, commercially and socially," she says.
Zhu has been involved with the Union City Chamber of Commerce for most of her career. She has served as an Ambassador, represents Fremont Bank at many events, and was elected to the Board of Directors two years ago.
Two years ago, Zhu became treasurer of the New Haven Schools Foundation.
"Given the cuts in education, we try to help by sponsoring events and fundraising for schools and teachers. The bank places great store by education, has a scholarship with the Foundation, and donates directly and indirectly to the schools," she explained.
"People should get involved with their local communities," she adds. "Times are hard and government assistance and funding less generous. We need individuals to donate a few hours per month or contribute whatever else they can spare. It doesn't cost much for the volunteer but means a great deal more for the recipients."
"I want to make clear that wherever I go, I represent the bank. The relationships between this organization and the community are the result of the team efforts of all my colleagues," Zhu concluded modestly.
Visit www.UnionCity50.com for more details about Union City's 50th Anniversary.