If you hear something bubbling on the second floor of FIRM’s headquarters, it is most likely not the plumbing. It is probably a young lady with a big smile who will greet you with the traditional, “Sabaibee!”
It will be a giant heart wrapped in a small package named, Tout Tou Bounthapanya.
Tout Tou is a long term member of the FIRM community, beginning as a volunteer while still a teenager and serving in a number of staff positions including her current role as a Community Health worker in the Cultural Based Access/Navigation & Peer Support Specialist(CBANS) program.
A native of Laos, Tout Tou has worked with a number of communities including the Laotian, Hmong, Slavic, Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Hispanic people. She has been a counselor, advocate, educator, translator, and youth worker. She can even be heard on a local radio station as a voice of FIRM on public health issues.
Tout Tou holds a B.S. in Health Science and is working on a Masters degree in Public Health, both at CSU Fresno.
Most of her work today is in the area of prevention in mental health services. However, she is extremely active in many dimensions of FIRM community life, including public speaking and the Lao Dance team.
She is the wife of Tony Bounthapanya, another valued member of the FIRM team, an involved mother, a committed Christian, and an active member of University Presbyterian Church where she has served in many capacities including Elder. She has been involved in more than one mission excursion through her church back to Laos.
Tout Tou radiates enthusiasm for FIRM, for her relationship with God, for her ministry, and for the people she serves. To speak of hers as a bubbly personality would be no stretch for anyone who knows her. While she says that English is not an easy language for her, she communicates effectively and clearly in any language.
She is grateful for the country she adopted and that adopted her in 1989 and seeks to be the best citizen she can be. For 10 years, Tout Tou has been giving back to the community and it is her desire to keep on giving.