A well-known supporter of Asian American seniors and the founder and emeritus CEO of the nonprofit Penn Asian Senior Services, Im Ja Choi, passed away on Wednesday, June 22, from lung cancer in a South Korean hospital, she was 73.
A memorial service will be conducted on July 16 at 3:00 pm at the Evergreen Center in Philadelphia. Contributions in her name will be appreciated.
Ms. Choi was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1948, majored in literature, and graduated from Korea University. She moved to Philadelphia after marrying her childhood friend Jung Choi in 1971, where she studied organizational dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania. She was a top-producing real estate agent in the 1980s and 1990s.
She started Penn Asian Senior Services in 2004 to help Asian American elders with linguistic and cultural obstacles. Because she couldn’t get home care for her mother, and after hearing horrible experiences from other caregivers, she founded the charity that provides in-home care and homemaking services in over two dozen languages.
She undertook the fundraising efforts and strategic planning of the nonprofit, for which the charity received grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and numerous organizations.
Moreover, she has also opened an adult day care for immigrants with language and cultural barriers, a state-licensed vocational school for entry-level Asian health-care workers, and a seniors community center.
In 2013, she received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations. The Independence Blue Cross Foundation president Lorina Marshall-Blake wrote that the region needed more health visionaries like Im Ja Choi. Ken Yang, CEO of Penn Asian Senior Services, said Ms. Choi’s care, generosity, and love for her family and community matched her innovative leadership.
She was also recognized by the governor as a 2014 Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania for her “extraordinary service and achievements to the Commonwealth.” In the same year, she gave the commencement address at Penn State Abington where she quoted “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”