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 Like

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events


Mon, September 25, 4:00 PM

Montville Reformed Church, Montville

Mentor Training for Pathways

Giving Back


Mon, September 25, 7:00 PM

Montville Township Public Library, Montville

Teen Chess Club @Montville Twp Public Library

Arts & Entertainment


Mon, September 25, 7:00 PM

Montville Township High School, Montville

Teenage Depression Presentation - Remembering T.J.



Wed, September 27, 4:00 PM

Montville Township Public Library, Montville

Teen Yo-Yo Class @Montville Twp Public Library

Arts & Entertainment

Help Educate At Risk Teens (HEART) Fundraiser for Morris County Youth Wellness Summit

September 18, 2017

Hi, my name is Veronica Tullo and I am the current International United Miss Junior Teen 2017.  Last year I chose as my platform the cause of teen suicide and depression awareness because this issue has affected so many of my friends and people I love.  Since then I have been working closely with The Society for the Prevention of Teen ...

Addiction Recovery Services Van Traveling to Pine Brook Sept. 14, Offering HOPE

September 12, 2017

MONTVILLE, NJ – In its previous life, the HOPE ONE vehicle had been utilized in police tactical operations. Now, all law enforcement logos and lights are gone.

The exterior is decorated with a purple ribbon to signify recovery. “HOPE ONE” is inscribed within the purple ribbon, along with the Morris County “Stigma Free” logo. A 24-hour contact number for Morris ...

9/11 Commemorated in Montville Township

September 12, 2017

MONTVILLE, NJ – Montville Township residents gathered for a somber 16th anniversary remembrance of the six residents lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the two residents lost in the Pan Am flight 103 terrorist attack in Lockerbie, Scotland.

But former VFW Post 5481 Commander Frank Warholic also wanted to make it clear that the heroes should also be remembered. He called the group ...

Morris Essex Tuesday Senior Softball (METSS) League Holds Ninth Annual BBQ

September 15, 2017

RANDOLPH, NJ- The Morris Essex Tuesday Senior Softball (METSS) League recently held its ninth annual barbecue in Randolph.  Over 200 players participated in the morning round robin tournament and then joined their fellow athletes at Brundage Park to enjoy the end-of-season picnic.  Food was provided by the Randolph Diner and beverages by High-Grade Beverage ...

Holmdel Mourns Tragic Death of High School Junior Who Collapsed During Lacrosse Game

September 19, 2017

HOLMDEL, NJ — A GoFundMe page has been launched to support the family of Jack Dowd, the 16-year-old who died after collapsing at a lacrosse game at Rutgers University.

The Holmdel High School junior and varsity lacrosse player collapsed on Sept. 17 on the field during a scrimmage at the New Brunswick-based university. According to a Rutgers spokesperson, emergency services ...

Montville Twp Democrats Plan Oct. 19 Meeting

September 21, 2017

MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Democratic Campaign Staff Dinner was held on Sept. 15 at The Lake Valhalla Club.

Montville Township Democrats want to put an end to the Republican monopoly on the Township Committee, and are working hard to make sure their two-candidate team wins two seats on Election Day. Candidates Lucy Tullo and Emily Ryzuk are the “New Voices for Montville ...


JCP&L Provide Support Across the Companies Service Area

JCP&L linemen and support personnel are among a large group of linemen, damage accessors, electrical contractors, forestry crews and support personnel from FirstEnergy Corp. utilities  that have mobilized to help utilities in Florida with restoration efforts as a result of Hurricane Irma.

Open Houses on Sunday for Century 21 The Crossing

MONTVILLE, NJ - Following are the open houses for Century 21 The Crossing on Sunday, Sept. 10:

2 Macleay Road, Montville from 1 - 4 p.m.
12 Pond View, Montville from 1 - 3 p.m. 

Sam Shepard's 'Simpatico' takes off

Sam Shepard’s “Simpatico” has a forceful workout at McCarter Theatre.

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, NJ – If you’re at all familiar with the works of Sam Shepard, you know that he writes about gritty, unforgiving characters in what appear to be hopeless situations.

In “Simpatico,” we learn that Vinnie and Carter are former partners in a race horse ...

Pet Corner