Princeton University professor Mung Chiang directs cutting-edge networking research. But the story that inspired his fund at the Community Foundation began over a century ago, in a small village in China.
“For the first six years of my life, beginning in the late 1970s, my parents and I lived with my grandparents, sharing one kitchen and a single toilet with six other families. Times were hard but my grandparents loved me immensely.
“I’ve always been inspired by their story: love at first sight, an engagement nearly derailed by World War II, my grandmother’s last-minute voyage to marry my grandfather in San Francisco weeks before Pearl Harbor, some prosperous years in America followed by years of hardship back in China in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, and finally, a gradually improving final epoch surrounded by their four sons and four grandchildren.
“For 67 years my grandparents were inseparable; they lived hand-in-hand through times of comfort and times of oppression. My grandfather lived to one hundred and one, my grandmother to the age of ninety-four. After they passed away, about two years ago, I wanted to commemorate their life together and their love for each other.
“My family does not have wealth, and my salary as a professor is modest. But I felt there was a better use for the little bit of money I had saved, so I called a lawyer and he suggested that I talk to the Community Foundation. My father went with me, and I told the staff at the foundation our goals: to see my grandparents’ names together, to help my family remember them, and to do something meaningful for others, in their memory.
“After I signed the check establishing this memorial fund, I told my father, ‘What a bargain! We hit the jackpot.’ People talk about ‘the cloud’ these days—online resources you tap into instead of establishing a costly, dedicated infrastructure yourself. Well, a community foundation is the iCloud service for charity.
“I will add to the fund over time as I have the means. What matters most is that my grandparents would be very happy. The Chiang and Chin Memorial Fund honors them and connects them to our family forever. I trust that the Community Foundation, of which our fund is now a part, will be forever, too. ”