LAOE Honors Volunteers at Annual New Year’s Celebration

Mayor of Elgin, David Kaptain receives LAOE 2012 Person of the Year Award


December 23, 2012


ELGIN, Ill.— The Lao American Organization of Elgin (LAOE) hosted its annual New Year’s Celebration at The Seville in Streamwood, IL, celebrating the success of 2012 with over 200 guests. There was a lot to celebrate. It was also an evening to honor individuals and groups that contributed to the success of LAOE and the Lao American community of Elgin.

LAOE presented the 2012 Platinum Partner Award to three organizations. The Asian Health Coalition continued to fund health programs for the community. LAOE was proud to be able to help raise the awareness of cervical and breast cancer among women, educating 200 women and referring over 75 women to seek medical treatments.  With the generous support and donation from the Law Offices of Fichera & Miller, LAOE was awarded $6,500 in academic scholarships to 13 deserving students. Engaging the community in local government by voting was a major initiative for LAOE. With the partnership of the Asian American Institute of Chicago, LAOE was provided resources and guidance to effectively engage in the 2012 local election, achieving over 600 registered voters and mobilizing over 150 early voters.


The 2012 Volunteers of the Year was awarded to four women who have graciously given back to the community. Phousompheth Visaysouk was awarded for her culinary skills, cooking meals for several occasions and for over 1,000 people. Joy Bounyavong, Mone Ramangkoun and Amanda Vanmanisone were instrumental on sharing the beauty of the Lao culture as they led youth and adult performers, dancing at several events including the Northwest Fourth-Fest.


Thida Vongvilay won the inaugural 2012 Student Leader of the Year Award for her leadership and contributions to the Lao Youth Leaders organization as well as her contributions to several LAOE programs including the Civic Engagement program. She recruited and led a team of 30 high school student volunteers to support LAOE’s Get Out the Vote movement.


The Lao community of Elgin has been growing for over 30 years. LAOE created the Lifetime Achievement Award to honor the individuals and groups that have been a lasting impact to the community. LAOE present five awards. The first Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Somlith Visaysouk for his leadership in several organizations including the Lao American Organization of Elgin and Lao American Community Services in Chicago. Em Ramangkoun’s has made it his lifetime commitment to always give back and serve the Lao community. He was awarded for his leading the Lao Buddhist temple, Wat Samaggi, and providing a sacred place for the community to worship and partake in traditional activities and events. For his artistry in photography and contributing his talents to capture thousands of moments of the community’s lives and event, Simon Xanavongsay was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The Chicago Band was honored with the award for their musical talents and entertaining the community at hundreds of events. The last Lifetime Achievement Award winner was Norasing Kethdy. He has been a leader of the community, working for the YWCA in the 1980’s, assisting hundreds Lao refugees assimilate to the American lifestyle. He has and currently serves in numerous Lao organizations including Lao American Organization of Elgin, Lao American Community Services of Chicago, and Lao Tennis Club. It was a privilege and honor for LAOE to award the above winners for their contributions to the community.


Winning the LAOE 2012 Person of the Year Award was the Mayor of Elgin, David Kaptain. He was selected among other notable candidates for his contributions to the City of Elgin, ensuring a community worthy to support a diverse population. His vision for a unified community where every group as their place, individually and collectively with other groups, was a reason for why LAOE selected Mayor David Kaptain as the Person of the Year. This vision will allow the Lao community to break their silence and engage and contribute to Elgin’s growth and success.


“Tonight we celebrate with those who want the best for us. Without these individuals and organizations supporting us, we will not meet the needs of our community. We are very thankful to everyone here tonight and we look forward on nourishing all our relationships that will reap more celebrations in the future,” stated Soukanhn Thavisouk, Executive Director of LAOE. “Cheers to everyone! I wish you all a great 2013 and beyond.”


With a near record audience of over 200 people celebrating, LAOE had many reasons to be optimistic in 2013. LAOE would like to thank everyone who has made 2012 a historic success.




Pictures are available upon request. Photography credit – Mr. Sim Bounyavong Inthavong


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For more information, please contact Alan Thavisouk, Board Member.