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This spring we woke up a little differently

Dear Reader,

In light of ongoing efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, many of us have been waking up a little differently than we’re used to. For some, this might mean waking up later because we no longer need to make our morning commute and are fortunate enough to be able to work from home. For others, it means waking up to uncertainty because there is no longer work to wake up to, no longer a dependable means to pay rent and feed families. And for those in healthcare and the food supply chain, waking up is finding the energy and courage each day to continue protecting the lives of those in need.

Each morning, I have a news report sent to my email. And over the last month, every day, I have watched the numbers climb, the curve make its exponential ascent, images of grocery shelves emptied, reports on dwindling reserves of medical supplies, xenophobic attacks and declining business in Chinatowns, the list goes on.

But just as I scroll though the morning’s news feed, a text notification pops up on my screen. From Mom, “Look at the funny face your brother made 😄.” I click on the message. An image of my dog, to whom my mother refers to as my little brother, appears. He’s sitting in the kitchen, tongue wagging and waiting for breakfast. Laughing to myself, I save the image and text my mom back, 😂😂.

Each morning, I have a news report sent to my email. And each morning, I receive a message from my mom. Most days, it’s a simple good morning and remember to take your vitamins. On the weekends, she’ll send me a picture of the cake she steamed or the pancakes she made. And we’ll talk on the phone while I sip my Saturday coffee and she gets ready to take my grandmother grocery shopping.

So yes, this spring we woke up a little differently, a little unsure of how to keep moving forward, and perhaps a little bit afraid. But some things, I know I can always count on to be the same, like my mom's daily messages and reminders. So while we deal with uncertain times, I am comforted and grateful to know that I have this one certainty.

In early March, VBP asked the community to share photos and anecdotes about inspirational women in their lives, to pay tribute to their influences as part of Women's History Month. We’ve compiled the submissions below and hope that you, too, will be uplifted and encouraged by this dose of positivity.

To all the women who have paved the way for us to do the work that we do and to the women who continue to lift us up each day, who remind us to be kind to ourselves and teach us to also take care of our communities, thank you. Thank you for showing us the courage to be compassionate.

Happy Women’s History Month!

Take care and stay safe,


My mom continues to inspire me each day, especially as I get older. Growing up, I took her for granted. She was a single mom raising two girls, not an easy feat. She was also a Vietnamese refugee. In her early 20s, my age now, she was brand new to America. Pushed out of her home country and confronted by one whose language she did not know. She is strong, independent, and fearless. I love you, mom! @triciavuongg

My bà ngoại is one of “The Four Sisters,” the founders of my massive, blended Vietnamese family. Immigrating to the U.S. as a wartime refugee, she moved around to wherever my ông ngoại could find the best work. From Michigan to Mississippi to Kansas, she supported her husband and raised four beautiful children at the same time. I’m sure it wasn’t easy and am continually inspired by her resilience. @megando

My mom is silly, worried all the time, and the best cook in my family. She is constantly trying to feed me and everyone around her—that’s how she shows her love and care, by making sure you’re well fed. Immigrating to the U.S. when she was 14, her family moved around a handful of times before settling in Wichita, Kansas. Here, she raised four kids while also working as an independent business owner. @megando

Born in Vietnam but mostly raised in the U.S., my aunt has always been my hero. We are 14 years apart in age, and she was the cool, young aunt when I was growing up. She taught me to work hard but also to enjoy life whether it’s through traveling or eating well. She’s the most generous person I know, always welcoming people into her home and taking care of her loved ones. @megando

With her courage to flee Vietnam and landing in the U.S., my mother gifted her children a taste for re-invention and thoughtful, roll-up-your-sleeves execution. As a result of her daring bravery, she gave me the confidence to map out my own reality and to never settle. I will spend the rest of my life attempting to pay her back for her continual sacrifice. Without you, nothing. @julienguyenner

My mother carries the most selfless and resilient qualities that have positively impacted my life and the lives of those around her. As an adult, I’ve come to realize that those qualities do not come easy and require exhaustive amounts of strength and patience. I admire her ability to possess such traits and strive every day to share them with others as best I can - the world could certainly use more of that. @bellaonsocial

I hope to have half the grit and courage that my mom had at my age. At 40, she already had 7 kids, survived through years of war and migration, and planned boat escapes for numerous families fleeing from Communism, including our own. Arriving in America with seven kids to feed, she took on multiple jobs, helped put my dad through college, and still managed to save a few dollars to send back to the family we had left behind in Vietnam. As a mother, she taught me the meaning of self-less love. @tnguyenmang

During the early 2000s, my mom helped raise awareness of the Japanese American Internment in the Bay Area. She worked closely with the JA community in San Jose, San Francisco, and the Peninsula to help educate people of one of America's darkest periods. Here are my mom and I with the Congressional Gold Medal awarded to the JA community, at the Smithsonian museum of American History, where my she brought my grandfather's internment artwork to be included in the Smithsonian's archives and exhibits. @aboulevard

Meet Trinh Hoang - my cousin who moonlights as a super-heroine. Aside from being an amazing person overall, Trinh is someone who continually puts other people’s needs above her own. Currently, she is leading the fight against COVID-19 as a nurse in DC. Thank you for all the work you do, Trinh! @trnhvnh

These two women, my mother (Huong) and sister (Crystal), inspire me constantly. My mother is a boat person who made over ten attempts to flee Vietnam so that she could make a better life for herself and her family. She is the hardest working and most compassionate person I’ve ever known. My sister is selfless and brilliant. I try my best to be more like them every day. @soupoverhere

"Mom and Ba ngoai. The two best chefs I know. I'm so thankful to my grandmother and my mother for being strong-minded, independent women that raised me to be the same. They passed down a love and appreciation for Vietnamese food which has largely helped shape who I am today. Here's to celebrating women that push us to think more, do more, and eat more!"

"I was raised by fire.

I learned to approach her gently

for a warm embrace,

because if you got too close,

she would burn you. She taught me to consume life



because it could be so easily

snuffed out. Through fire, in the darkest of hours, I became my own light."

My mom is the toughest woman I know, but also one of the most selfless. She's survived war, several years in a refugee camp, and having to start over in a strange and often unforgiving country. Our different beliefs and personalities often put us at odds, highlighting the cultural divide between us, but my respect for her grace and resilience is beyond compare. I still want to be her when I grow up. @saolinguyen

From the day I was born, Tracey has been the big sister I never had but one of the best aunts I could have asked for. As the youngest of seven, she never let a shadow cast over her and is always fun-loving, creative, and driven to make a difference. Her support and guidance throughout my life has always come from a place of care, kindness and open-mindedness - no matter how hard the lesson I had to learn. Being a part of VBP with her today has been such a special, inspiring way to keep our sisterly-bond growing. @alnewcomb25

Ba Ngoai is the rock of our family.

Always there for her children and

grandchildren through good and bad times.

“Hoc cham chi bi gio va choi sau,”

she would always tell me.

Her words have resonated with me in all aspects of my life, growing up, through my career in the military, and to where I am now. Work hard now, and relax later when you are successful. From ensuring I never leave her house with an empty stomach, to patching the tears and holes in my

uniforms when I’m home

- thank you, Ba Ngoai, for all you do.

I would not get to enjoy the blessed life

I live now if not for you and your sacrifices. @jhoang58


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