Tao Re-Jin also known as Ruby Tom came to San Diego, CA shortly after World War II. Ruby originally from Yun Nan Province of China, left her homeland in the pursuit of higher education in the United States.
After arriving in San Diego, Ruby described her first year in San Diego as uncertain about herself due to the language barrier. Other constraints were financial, mental and physical.
While attending college at San Diego State University (SDSU), Ruby met other Chinese students that had a similar situation like hers. They did not know where to turn to for help or assistance.
Ruby graduated from SDSU in 1970 with a Bachelor's degree in Administration in Social Welfare. She continued her education with a Master's degree in Social Services (1972). While studying for her Master's degree, Ruby along with Dr. Dave Pritchard and sponsorship from the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) created the Chinese Social Service Center. The founding Board members of the Chinese Social Service Center were:
Jennings Hom – President
Edwin Hom – Secretary
May Chen – Treasurer
The Chinese Social Service Center founding members were:
Albert Tom, Daniel Chang, John Chew, Dr. F.h. Chou, Bacon Chu, Rev, Rober Fung, Dorothy Hom, Jackson Hom, Jacqueline Ip, Frances Lee, Peter Luh, Ruby Tom, and Mary Lou Hom.
The Chinese Social Service Center was officially founded on June 6, 1972. The non-profit organization was financed by Ruby and a $3 per year membership fee. In 1989 the Chinese Social Service Center changed it's name to the San Diego Chinese Center (SDCC) to broaden the scope of its services.
The SDCC is situated in the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association’s historical landmark building in the old Chinatown of San Diego (now known as the Asian Thematic District), adjacent to the CCBA’s low-income senior housing project.
In the past 37 years, the SDCC has strived to meet the needs of the Chinese community within San Diego and serve as a cultural bridge between the Chinese and non-Chinese communities. Today, the SDCC functions as a non-profit multilingual, educational, cultural, and social service assistance agency. The following are a few of the programs and activities held and sponsored by the SDCC: English as a second language, job referrals, housing assistance programs, translation and interpretation, low cost family health insurance, forms assistance and recreational activities.
Ruby, passed away peacefully on October 16, 2011 at the Quarry Hill retirement home in Camden, Maine. She was 85. She is survived by her daughter, novelist Terry (Tess) Gerritsen of Camden, Maine, her son Dr. Timothy Tom, an anesthesiologist in Corpus Christi, Texas, and her grandsons Adam and Joshua Gerritsen, and Christopher Tom.
In Loving Memory of Ruby Tom, founder of the San Diego Chinese Center
Jui Chiung Tom, known to friends and family as Ruby, passed away peacefully on October 16, 2011 at the Quarry Hill retirement home in Camden, Maine. She was 85. A native of Kunming, China, she came to the U.S. as a foreign student. She was the first Chinese coed to ever attend Arkansas College, where her American classmates dubbed her "Ruby" because they found her Chinese name impossible to pronounce. She planned to return to China, but the Chinese Revolution cut off her hopes of going home. From afar, through an exchange of carefully worded letters, she learned of the hardships suffered by her parents, whose large estate in Kunming was confiscated by the government. She never saw her parents again. After her marriage to Ernest B. Tom, Ruby settled in San Diego, where her difficulties as an immigrant inspired her to help other Chinese immigrants. Even while busily raising two children, she managed to earn a Master's degree in Social Services at San Diego State University. In 1972 she co-founded the Chinese Social Service Center, now known as the San Diego Chinese Center. 39 years later, the organization she created continues to provide social services and cultural programs for the San Diego community. With the re-opening of China to tourists, Ruby was finally able to visit her homeland several times, and she was delighted to meet nieces she'd never seen. A fearless traveler, she often made bold and surprising choices in life -- including a decision to get divorced after 32 years of marriage and live by her own rules. After moving to Maine in 2008, she settled in at Quarry Hill, where the extraordinary and compassionate care of the nursing staff eased her final days. A private family service is planned next summer in Kunming. She is survived by her daughter, novelist Terry (Tess) Gerritsen of Camden, Maine, her son Dr. Timothy Tom, an anesthesiologist in Corpus Christi, Texas, and her grandsons Adam and Joshua Gerritsen, and Christopher Tom. In lieu of flowers, the family would deeply appreciate donations to the American Heart Association:
San Diego Chinese Center, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization
428 Third Avenue - San Diego, CA 92101
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