SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A San Francisco businessman who immigrated to the U.S. decades ago is giving back to the community as a “thank you” for his life in America.
In Arthur Chan’s home, countless awards celebrate his philanthropy. But the octogenarian remains humble.
“I don’t need to be remembered. I just want people to be inspired by what I did,” said Chan.
In all, Chan has donated more than $3 million to Chinese Hospital, with half a million of that going towards the new cancer center.
He began giving in 2004 in memory of Annie, his wife of 35 years, who died of cancer.
Hospital CEO Dr. Jian Zhang told KPIX 5 Chan’s donations have helped update equipment and services in areas like diabetes and gastroenterology.
“He is our top donor,” Zhang said.
Chan also shares his business advice to help improve the hospital’s services.
“He would say, ‘This is an area where you need to improve. This is an area you can do better,'” explained Zhang.
“This is a small token that I can express my appreciation and gratitude to America,” said Chan.
He came from China in 1960 to study math and electrical engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
“I came here with $80,” Chan remembered.
He worked hard and started a food import-export company on Clay Street and Grant Avenue in Chinatown.
Today, it’s a wholesale business in Oakland. And he supports new immigrants at the Chinese Newcomers Service Center.
That support is not just with holiday food donations and monetary contributions, according to executive director George Chan.
“He is willing to hire those non-English speaking Chinese immigrants to work for him,” said Chan, who is not a relative.
Arthur Chan hired David Leung and taught him how to start his own business and give back.
“He told me that America gave him education, gave him business opportunities. More importantly, gave him American dream,” said Leung.
And Chan’s perspective, Leung said, changed his view on charitable giving.
Chan said when he first arrived in the U.S. as a foreign student, a lieutenant helped him get from San Francisco to his college in San Luis Obispo, but would not take any money for the ride.
The new immigrant decided then that he would payback that act of kindness by giving back to his new country.
Over the years, Chan has made five-digit and six-digit donations to a host of organizations, from the Teo Chew Community Center he founded in Chinatown to the American Red Cross.
He also donates cemetery plots to those who can’t afford to bury family members.
And the 80-year-old is not done with his charitable work. Chan, who still works seven days a week, does not plan to retire.
“I like to work even harder to make more money to donate more to the community,” he declared.
So for his generous community giving, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Arthur Chan.