Tom Hsieh is my hero. Hands down.
As an Asian man. As a father. As an entrepreneur. As a follower of Christ.
I think this was a precious find in People magazine [ Thanks David (Next.Generasian Church) ] last month juxtaposed between pages of celebrities and whatever in the world they are up to. Plus isn’t it great to see yet another interracial couple with a cute baby to spoil on? No. Recent research shows that interracial couples spend more time and money on their kids than parents who are both of the same race. I’ll save that thought for another time. The Hsiehs are an image of a interracial couple that will give their bi-racial child a different story.
But the point I want to make in this post is that from a policy perspective this is how urban renewal is supposed to work but who’s willing? Move into a community with high crime and unemployment? What about safety? What about my family? What about my children’s future? How about, Is this not what those have been called by follow Christ supposed to do?
I’m thrilled that Tom gives to Servant Partners, a ministry that I’m in love with. Their mission is consistent with the life demonstrated through the Hsiehs – living among the poor in community, leading humbly in the spirit of a servant, evangelizing boldly in faith beyond race, beyond class. Sounds like Jesus eh?
Tom Hsieh could be living the American dream. An immigrant from Taiwan, he worked hard in school, got into a good college and today heads an L.A.- based telecommunications consulting firm. His annual pay: $2OO,OOO.
So where’s the big house and fancy car? “We could have that lifestyle,” Hsieh says. “But it’s not real.” What’s real, for Hsieh, is his deep faith and desire to help others. So Hsieh, 36, wife Bree, 31, and 13-month-old daughter Kadence live on a modest $38,000 a year.
The rest of Tom’s income goes to charity, including Servant Partners, a Christian group he and Bree belong to that sends young adults into urban areas to spread Christ’s teachings and practice community activism.
The family lives in a two-bedroom duplex in South Pomona, a community battered by crime and unemployment. There, Hsieh and his wife talk to young people about getting on a better path, and lead efforts to make the streets safer. Santos Ramos, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Pomona, says the Hsiehs have the community respect. “Politicians come and go, but when educated people live next door, there’s hope.”
Still, it’s not exactly an immigrant parent’s dream. Some years ago, Hsieh told his parents, “I’ll always make sure there’s a roof over your head, but I won’t be the successful Chinese son who buys you a BMW.” His daughter won’t need such explanations. “She’s growing up,” he says, “knowing there more to life than possessions.” – People Magazine, Dec 24, 2007