Meet the Leaders of Montville Township

Spotlight: Margaret Lam, Chinese Philanthropist

Margaret Lam Credits: Melissa Benno

MONTVILLE, NJ – “When I first got to New Jersey, there were very few active Chinese people or clubs,” says Montville Township resident Margaret Lam. “I came from Hong Kong. Most people who came here spoke Mandarin, but I speak Cantonese. So I founded the New Jersey Hong Kong Club. It felt like home.”

Lam, who has lived in Montville for about fifty years, is a major force in continuing Chinese culture in New Jersey.

It all started with a parade.

Sign Up for E-News

“I organized Chinese Montville residents and we created a float that featured Chinese cultural icons for the Montville Fourth of July parade, which won first prize. Mayor Eckhardt asked me to join the Fourth of July Committee, which I served on for about thirty years. Five years later, in 1989, Governor Kean invited me to start the New Jersey Chinese Festival,” she recalls. “I’m still the chairperson!"

Lam said the festival was held at the Garden State Arts Center the first ten years, but now it is held at Liberty State Park.

“I don’t know how we did it without cell phones or computers! We had more than 10,000 visitors each year at the Arts Center, and thousands of attendees each year since. It’s my favorite activity I’ve done through the years.”  

Considering how many clubs she has started and activities she has chaired throughout the years, that’s a true compliment. Lam’s list includes five terms as president of the Northern NJ Chinese Association (read about their Chinese New Year Celebration HERE), she served on the Ethnic Advisory Council for Governor Florio, and is vice president of the NJ Chinese-American Chamber of Commerce.

But her list of achievements is not only related to the Chinese culture. She was commissioner of the School Ethics Commission for the NJ State Board of Education, and she was director of the Morristown chapter of the Girl Scouts of America.

But one of her favorite, current positions?

“I’m president of the NJ Chinese Tennis Association. I encourage them!” she says with a laugh.

Lam’s home is a testimony to her many years of service and the many awards she has received. Every room houses the paintings, sculptures and medals she has painted, achieved, or been gifted over the years.

But her dining room showcases, in her eyes, her most prestigious award.

“In 2004, I received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor,” she says.

Sponsored by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, the Ellis Island Medals of Honor are “presented annually to American citizens who have distinguished themselves within their own ethnic groups while exemplifying the values of the American way of life,” according to their website.

“Every year they honor about 100 people from different countries,” she said. “The ceremony was held on Ellis Island. Seven presidents have received this award.”

Lam also spent five years as the president of the Northern NJ Chinese Association (NNJCA), and says, “I’m still helping,” with a laugh. The club holds its Chinese School classes at Montville Township High School every Sunday. The school educates students in the Chinese language and culture, including dance, music and painting.

“We want to preserve Chinese culture for the community and for the younger generations. The school is the most important part of the NNJCA,” she said.

Lam said the club is very thankful to be housed in Montville.

“We’ve held our classes at the high school for about thirty years,” she said. “We are very grateful to the Montville Township Board of Education, which is very supportive of our association.”

Lam has gathered the Chinese community to perform for several years at the Montville Township Fourth of July Celebration event, bringing the lion dance, an ancient costume performance, and a Tai-Chi demonstration to the festivities. She is a sponsor for the event as well. Chinese groups also march in the parade.

But, while Lam volunteers and works many hours furthering the Chinese culture, she also spends a lot of time volunteering for Montville.

She founded the Republican Club Scholarship last year, which will continue this year. She was a member of the Montville Township Sustainability Committee and the Fair Housing Committee.

“I like friends who give back to the community. I am living at peace. People should do nice things and get along,” she says.

Lam is quick to point out that all of her culture-preserving activities are for all Chinese-Americans, or those who are interested in Chinese culture.

“The NNJCA is for all Chinese people. I don’t care where they’re from. The association is a non-profit, and is non-political,” she insists.

Lam lives in Montville with her husband, David Yen, and she is proud that both of her children graduated from Montville Township High School. The couple has two grandchildren. Lam is also a six-year breast cancer survivor.

“At my age, I have so many memories of the past. My belief is that we should not live in the memory. We need to go forward and accept younger people’s ideas, which are more creative,” she said. “I keep my mind and body busy, and that’s the way to fight any disease.”

In addition to the Chinese cultural items throughout her home, Lam has sculptures of all twelve animal symbols of the Chinese New Year on top of her kitchen cabinets.

“I’m the dragon,” she laughs.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events


Mon, November 27

Montville Township Public Library, Montville

CLOSED - Montville Twp Public Library



Mon, November 27, 10:00 AM

Montville Township Public Library, Montville

CANCELLED: Story Time at Library

Arts & Entertainment

Mon, November 27, 7:00 PM

Montville Township Senior House, Montville

Montville Republican Club Meeting



Tue, November 28

Montville Township Public Library, Montville

CLOSED - Montville Twp Public Library



Tue, November 28, 8:00 PM

Municipal Building, Montville

Montville Township Committee Meeting


Montville Kiwanis Announces Annual Holiday Turkey Drive

November 21, 2017

MONTVILLE, NJ – The Kiwanis Club of Montville announces their annual township-wide holiday turkey drive for the Montville Kiwanis Food Pantry, now in operation for more than seven years.

Donations of small and medium frozen turkeys, turkey breasts and hams, can be dropped off at three locations:

Stonybrook Realty, 630 Main Road in Towaco, Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 ...

Girl Scouts Host Teddy Bear Tea Fundraiser to Help Refugees

November 18, 2017

MONTVILLE, NJ – About fifty girls attended a Teddy Bear Tea hosted by Girl Scout Troop 4916, seventh graders at Lazar.

Four of the girls in the 11-girl troop created the party as a fundraiser for their Girl Scout Silver Award. Joleen Amer, Sara LoPresti, Ridhee Maddula and Rebekah Mathew chose working with refugees as the focus of their project.

“We wanted to help children in ...

Veterans Speak About Their War Experiences at Montville Library

November 10, 2017

MONTVILLE, NJ – Residents gathered at the Montville Township Public Library on Nov. 9 to hear the stories of veterans from VFW Post 5481, a rare treat for even fellow members of the post, one post member said.

Gerry Gemian, who served in the Pacific in World War II and was a Staff Sergeant in the Army, wanted to explain about the Pacific theater.

“I saw action in the Marshall ...

Montville Township High School Mustangs “Buy-A-Brick” Fundraiser

November 14, 2017

MONTVILLE, NJ – Pave the way to support MTHS athletics and create a lasting legacy! The Montville Mustangs Association invites you to become a permanent part of Montville Township High School by purchasing a personalized, engraved commemorative brick for a planned patio to be located in front of the high school, surrounding the Mustang statue. 

Bricks are $100 for a 4” by ...

Layups 4 Life Charity Hoops Tourney Leaves Roxbury

November 21, 2017

ROXBURY, NJ - For the first time since its inception in 2014 by a Roxbury High School graduate, the popular Layups 4 Life 3-on-3 charity basketball tournament will not take place in Roxbury in 2018.

Tournament founder Dan Exter has moved the event to the Parsippany PAL Youth Center, a venue that offers more room than the Roxbury High School gymnasium. The departure ...

Volunteers Assemble 1,500 Care Packages for US Troops Deployed Overseas

November 11, 2017

MANVILLE, NJ – More than 500 volunteers, young and old, helped Operation Shoebox New Jersey assemble 1,500 personal care packages during the XIII annual Military Appreciation packing event held in conjunction with Veterans Day.

The event was held on Saturday, Nov. 4, at the Manville VFW, 600 Washington Ave.

It took only two hours to build the boxes, pack the bags, assemble the boxes, ...

Atlantic Medical Group Opens Its First Primary Care Facility in Oakland

November 22, 2017

Bringing High-Quality Care and Expanded Services to the Community

Atlantic Medical Group recently celebrated the grand opening of a new, state-of-the-art primary care facility in Oakland with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The new office is Atlantic Medical Group’s first and only stand-alone primary care facility in the Oakland area and will serve a large population of patients with a focus ...


Family Health

Be Aware of Pancreatic Cancer’s Warning Signs

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, and nationally renowned gastrointestinal (GI) cancer physician-scientist Angela Alistar, MD thinks it is critical that everyone learn how to recognize the warning signs of this aggressive cancer. Dr. Alistar is medical director of GI medical oncology at the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center of Morristown Medical Center, Atlantic Health ...

Open Houses this Weekend Presented by Century 21

MONTVILLE, NJ - Following are Century 21 Open Houses this weekend:

Saturday, Nov. 18 from 1 - 4 p.m.

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using FGPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)
8 Summit Drive, Bld #10, North Caldwell

Sunday, Nov. 19 from 1 - 4 p.m.

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using FGPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)
8 ...

AtlantiCast: Episode 007

On this week’s AtlantiCast, you’ll see how Atlantic Health System is driving innovation and finding new ways to solve tomorrow’s health care challenges, find out how a near tragedy on the tennis courts was averted thanks to some world-class training and technology at Chilton Medical Center and meet the 70 cancer doctors you need to know about – plus much ...

Why Parenting is Harder for Parents of Teens

My husband forwarded an article to me, “The thing about raising teenagers that no one wants to say out loud.” (link below)  It hit me… hard… so hard that I felt compelled to share and expand on it.  If your family is struggling, you’ll definitely relate.  It’s all too true, and I experienced it, too.

Therapists and coaches can help you ...

Pet Corner