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Natividad "Nati" Lim Jenks, has passed


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Greetings All:

 

Jeff Jenks' wife, Natividad "Nati" Lim Jenks, has passed. Our sympathy and condolences go out to him and his family during this time. For those of you who do not know Jeff, he is a very active member of many groups, lists and forums. He has a travel agency many go through, to fly internationally to the Philippines, as well as to other points around the globe. Below is an email composed by Jeff, copied from the Living In Davao Yahoo Group:

 

Dear Friends,

 

No one on the list ever met my wife. So let me tell you a little about her life in America and contributions to our community.

 

Nati demonstrated how a Filipina can make a great impact on America and the lives of others.

 

Nati was born on December 25, 1940 and died on August 27, 2006. She was 65 years old. We knew each other for 43 years and were married for over 35 years.

 

 

Background

 

Natividad "Nati" Lim Jenks was born in Sogod, Cebu the Philippines in 1940. She spoke two Filipino languages plus Chinese, Spanish and English. She was educated at the University of San Carlos and the Ateneo de Davao in Business and Accounting. She also studied culinary arts at Oakland Community College. She met Jeff when he was a Peace Corps teacher in the Philippines in 1963, but he was a little slow. She married him in 1971 in Cebu City and moved to the United States that same year. She became a U.S. citizen on July 4, 1976. She died from a massive brain hemorrhage, a complication of cancer on August 27, 2006.

 

In the United States she worked for the International Institute, beginning as a volunteer; the Lutheran Church in America as an assistant in the Bishop' office; for the Wayne County Office of Substance Abuse, and on Governor James J. Blanchard's staff as Asian American liaison. From 1991 to 2004 she was Executive Director of the Asian American Center for Justice.

 

Leadership and Vision

For more then 23 year Nati brought together diverse Asian Pacific American groups, helping them gain higher visibility in government and in the public community and protecting their civil rights. She helped APAs understand that an attack on one group is an attack on all groups. She was the major individual in the APA community that promoted greater understanding between the different and diverse groups. During the past 23 years she was one of the major behind-the-scenes movers, to get APAs involved in the greater community, and helped the larger community have a more realistic understanding of the APA community.

 

From 1983 to 1990 she served on the Executive staff of Governor James J. Blanchard. Nati was hired for the Communications Unit in Lansing. She eventually became the Administrative Assistant to the Director of the SE Michigan office. She obtained her job by being a full-time unpaid volunteer for the Governor in the year prior to his first election as governor.

 

 

Special Skills

 

What was unique about Nati is that she saw a need for Asian American involvement in government, and the need of these diverse groups to receive services from the government. She developed the role of liaison to the Asian American community, and was then given this added assignment by the Governor. She helped create the first Governor's Advisory Commission on Asian American Affairs, which functioned from 1984 to 1990. She then proudly staffed it. This unique Commission brought together leaders from seven different Asian American communities, of both political parties, to meet with department directors and resolve community problems. It was unusual in that it brought together leaders from different political persuasions. When she arrived in Lansing there were very few Asian Pacific Americans on Michigan's regulatory boards and commissions, although they represented large numbers in engineering, medicine, and nursing. She made sure that APA professionals (from both political parties) were appointed to Michigan's regulatory boards and commissions. They often were the first of Asian descent, to serve on these boards. When Nati left the Governor's staff the end of December 1990 there were many APAs serving on boards and commissions.

 

From 1991 to 2004 Nati served as the Executive Director of the Asian American Center for Justice (ACJ), the only staffed pan-Asian organization in Michigan. ACJ was originally set up in 1983 to deal with a response to the killing of Vincent Chin, and the results of the killers never spending a day in jail.

 

As ACJ Executive Director she was responsible for all aspects of this small nationally-recognized organization. She did all of the fund-raising, board recruitment, liaison with external communities, coalition building inside the community, and Asian American problem resolution. In her role she helped build consensus and action to protect APAs charged with crimes, usually partially a result of civil rights related discrimination. Nati arranged for a number of young Asian Americans to serve as interns in the White House. She also helped the media better understand the various Asian communities.

 

 

Voluntary Involvement

 

In the late 70s and early 80s Nati served on Temple Beth El's Refugee Resettlement Committee (as a practicing Catholic) and assisted in the successful resettlement of three Vietnamese refugee families.

 

In 1984 and 1988 Nati served as a delegate to two political national conventions. She increased involvement of Asian Americans in the Democratic party in Michigan, and served on the Democratic State Central Committee for four years.

 

In 1997 she served as a Board Member and then Trustee of New Detroit Inc. She also served as a member of their Cultural Exchange Network, and was a partner in the Multicultural Immersion program for 8 years, presenting the Asian American experience to non-Asian community leaders. Nati served on the Asian and Arab American Coalition that helped resolve the discrimination by Detroit Edison against people of Asian and Arabic descent.

 

She is a past Vice President of the Michigan Chamber Symphony Orchestra, a statewide orchestra composed of primarily Asian American musicians led by Dr. Dai Uk Lee, professor of Music at Michigan State University. She was instrumental in obtaining corporate support for the organization, running its most successful fund-raiser, and broadening the participation on its board to include more then just people of Korean descent. Nati has good working relationships with many leaders in Detroit's cultural community.

 

Nati was a member of the Philippine American Community Center of Michigan, the Kiwanis Club of Cosmopolitan Detroit, the Governor's Advisory Council on Asian Pacific American Affairs, the Asian American Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Chinese Americans, the Japanese American Citizens League and served on the Advisory Board of the Council of Asian Pacific Americans (CAPA).

 

Nati was also a semi-professional match maker.

 

Awards and Recognition

1989 - Asian American Center for Justice- David Hwang Memorial Award for Distinguished Community Service to the Asian American community

 

- Asian American Journalists Association, Detroit chapter

 

1990 - Michigan Governor's Advisory Commission on Asian American Affairs - Special Award

 

1991 - Association of Chinese Americans - Outstanding Community Service Award

 

1992 - Kiwanis Club of Cosmopolitan Detroit - Distinguished Service Award

 

- Phil Am Association - Outstanding Service in Asian American Affairs award

 

1994 - Oakland County Center for Open Housing

 

1996 - New Detroit's Al Dunmore Award for Outstanding Achievement

 

2001 - Anti-Defamation League's Women of Achievement Award

 

2004 - Asian American Center for Justice - Recognition for a decade of service

 

2004 - International Channel's We the People "Vision in America Award"

 

 

Political Leadership and Involvement

 

Nati was the first Asian American delegate from Michigan to a Democratic National Convention in 1984. She served on the fund-raising organizations of many Democratic candidates.

 

Contributions

 

Tax-deductible contributions in Nati's memory may be made to the Philippine American Community Center of Michigan (PACCM) in care of 13361 Ludlow Avenue, Huntington Woods. (That's my home, so I can acknowledge your thoughtfulness) or to the Huntington Woods Community Fund (26815 Scotia, Huntington Woods 48070).

 

 

Celebration Service

A service celebrating Nati's life will be held on Saturday, September 30th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Huntington Woods Recreation Center, 26325 Scotia in Huntington Woods . Phone 248-541-3030 for directions. A service will also be held at Sacred Heart Church in Cebu City in late October (sometime between October 21 and 28.)

 

My thanks to those of you that have prayed for Nati to recover, and have been supportive of both of us over the past few months.

 

Jeff Jenks, email: [email protected]

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