OAKLAND — Julia Liou, MPH, chief executive officer, and Thu Quach, PhD, president of Asian Health Services (AHS), a federally qualified community health center with 12 sites throughout Alameda County, announced Oct. 19 a community event to commemorate and celebrate the historic street naming reveal of Sherry Hirota Way in Oakland’s Chinatown.
This street naming in tribute to an Asian American marks a momentous occasion in Oakland’s history. Aptly, the neighborhood is not only centered in Chinatown and adjacent to several of AHS’ clinics, but it also highlights the spot that was once Oakland’s Japantown, before Japanese Americans were unjustly imprisoned by the U.S. government during World War II.
Sherry Hirota Way, the block of Alice Street between 9th and 10th streets, is named as a tribute to AHS’ five decades of community impact and engagement, and its team of professionals and their leadership, service, advocacy, and compassion, then and now.
Helen Zia, journalist, activist, author and longtime Oakland resident, conveyed the importance of the street naming: “As founding chief executive officer of our beloved Asian Health Services, Sherry’s mark is felt daily by the 50,000 patients who rely on AHS. Sherry also shines as a nationally renowned leader for language and cultural access, and immigrant rights. She embodies the positive history of Oakland and Alameda County as a courageous voice for multiracial unity.”
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) also supported the street naming: “Sherry Hirota embodies the civic spirit and aspirations of my district and Oakland in particular. Ms. Hirota’s steadfast commitment for more than 47 years has enhanced the health, well-being, and safety of our AAPI and all of our diverse communities in Oakland.
“Ms. Hirota has forged coalitions and led courageous campaigns. She has shifted policies and narratives on local, state, and national levels, from managed care and language access to public charge and immigrant rights. Ms. Hirota has helped make a better Oakland and I look forward to walking down Sherry Hirota Way and paying tribute along with my constituency to Ms. Hirota’s civic leadership and Asian Health Services’ hard work and impact on behalf of Oakland.”
The community celebration will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 25, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with more than 400 people, including AHS staff, community members and Oakland leadership, expected to attend.
Founded in 1974, Asian Health Services (AHS) provides primary, dental, and behavioral health services to 50,000 underserved patients of Alameda County in 12 languages: Cantonese, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Mien, Lao, Mongolian, Karen, Karenni, and Burmese. A community hub, AHS strengthens and empowers its patients and community through the highest-quality care, advocacy, and community programs. A nationally recognized community care model, AHS is at the forefront of quality and innovation.