PINELLAS PARK – It’s been a busy few months for Panyha Foundation. This charitable nonprofit organization, established by Lao-American professionals to bring together the local Southeast Asian community, continues to grow.
On Nov. 10, Panyha celebrated its move to a new location, 4994 Park Blvd., with a packed open house. And in October, it hired its first full-time employee, naming Sara Sayasane managing director of the foundation.
Up next for Panyha, which takes its name from the Lao word for mental strength, is the publication of a quarterly magazine focusing on the arts and culture of Lao and other Southeastern Asian countries. It's geared toward people of Lao descent who are seeking a connection with their culture. Sayasane will serve as the editor-in-chief of "Panyha Magazine."
The group also offers scholarship programs for minorities and classes in Lao cultural dances. Eventually, Panyha will expand its services to focus on youth education, offering tutoring for the ACTs and SATs and seminars on Lao history and career goals.
Sayasane has worked with the foundation as a volunteer since 2009, when it was founded. A Lao-American, she admits that her work with Panyha has helped her get in touch with her own roots and hopes it can help others in the same way.
"It's making me appreciate and love where my family came from," she said. “There’s nothing else out there that connects us like this.”