Yongmaan Park, CEO and Chairman of Doosan Group.

NEW YORK - With a huge area of Manhattan still in darkness just two days after Hurricane Sandy, the Korean American Community Foundation (KACF) decided to forge ahead with their 10th Anniversary Gala, recognizing that there were many in the city who needed their help. A Hurricane Relief Fund was initiated at the Gala to make emergency funds immediately available.

The post-storm state of the city did present challenges. Two of the three honorees could not be present; the brochure lay unprinted in the darkened print works; and reaching the Marquis Marriott at Broadway and 45th Street was a nightmare – our dauntless M.C., Juju Chang arrived by “pedi-cab.” And yet, 800 guests made it to the event.

Following a minute of silence for those lost and suffering, the generous crowd raised more than $177,000 through phone-texted donations, silent and live auctions, bringing a the evening’s total to just over $1 million.

KACF 10th Anniversary Gala.

Juju Chang recounted accompanying a visibly shaken Governor Cuomo as the “surge” cascaded into the subway system at the height of the storm, and then surveying the damage across the city from a U.S Coast Guard helicopter. Her words inspired the concern and generosity of the crowd. Yongmaan Park, Chairman and C.E.O. of Doosan Group, spoke of the resilience and determination of the Korean community. Kyung Yoon, Executive Director of KACF, reminded the attendees that the organization was founded to address just such challenges as this disaster, making the auctioneer’s task considerably easier.

As I headed home through the darkened, muted city, I was reminded of both the complexity and the heart of this melting pot of a city I have grown to love and admire. New Yorkers are at their best in these situations. I recalled a phrase that my very English mother used in such times of crisis, “Plough ahead, regardless!”