John Ahn, KAAQ
by Benjamin Fang
Oct 14, 2020 | 1424 views | 0 0 comments | 143 143 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As president of the Korean American Association of Queens (KAAQ), John Ahn has the task of providing services for more than 100,000 Korean-Americans living in the borough.

The Bayside-based nonprofit organization celebrates Korean culture and strives for representation to make sure the voices of the community are heard.

One of the most important issues facing Korean-Americans right now is survival of small businesses that were shut down in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ahn noted that nail salons, dry cleaners, restaurants and other shops are having a hard time staying afloat.

“Now they’re slowly opening up, but they’re struggling,” he said.

Ahn has seen the consequences of those economic hardships. He said many middle-class and low-income families who came to the country to pursue the American dream are even thinking of leaving.

“One of the members at our church last week, she went back,” he said. “She couldn’t afford or survive or pursue the dreams she once had when she came to the United States.”

KAAQ was one of several Korean-American groups that rallied last week in Murray Hill to call for cancelling commercial rent and providing tax breaks for landlords.

Lately, the organization has also been involved in making sure their members and communities are counted in the 2020 census. KAAQ has also been registering people to vote in the upcoming general election.

“Those are two issues we’ve been pushing lately,” Ahn said.

Like many nonprofits, KAAQ was forced to either cancel or postpone many events due to the pandemic. Their meetings, including ones with their board and executive committee members, are all conducted virtually.

Even annual events like their health fair have been conducted digitally, Ahn said.

“COVID-19 is still out there,” he said, “so we’ve got to be careful.”

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