By Don Bolding
Killeen Daily Herald
Jade Luu's Christian mission in life is to earn money to help impoverished children.
That's why the former Austin resident and Motorola employee bought the strips of apartments on either side of Hallmark Avenue in the block east of its intersection with Florence Road to turn them into commercial properties in 2001.
After a series of financial setbacks, though, the only venture open is Chuc Mi's Sandwiches, which opened two months ago under Luu's direct management.
Luu still has architectural plans drawn up years ago for a shopping center across the street from the sandwich shop, but a partnership that would have financed the development fell through.
Now she is seeking to sell the property across the street and find a buyer for a hair salon that was to have opened next door to the sandwich shop.
Luu moved to Texas in 1980 after living for a time in Oklahoma. She lived in Austin for 17 years before moving to Killeen. She has family in the area and a son in college.
"I'm a Catholic, and I tried to work directly with children in Austin for a while, but it didn't work well," she said. "Now I'm trying a different way. I want to make enough money to make a real contribution to help the children who need it most."
Luu has a special heart for displaced children in her native Vietnam.
"Here, there are places where children can go," she said. "But there, many live in the open and under bridges. They are taken by people who make them steal and do all sorts of evil things to be fed and clothed."
Luu said churches and other agencies can help if they are given the resources, and she prays and receives inspiration about what she is to do.
"My grandfather started a church in the communist North Vietnam in 1954," she said, "at a time when you could be beheaded for organizing a church. Many Christians moved to what was then the free South, but he managed to stay where he was. The church is still where he started it."
At the sandwich shop's start, it specialized in Oriental soups, but Luu made it into a sandwich shop when she took over direct management. Chuc Mi is the name of a niece.
Now open from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, the shop serves dinner salads, hot dogs, "giant club" sandwiches with ham, turkey, beef or tuna, hot and cold sandwiches with a variety of ingredients, and Vietnamese-recipe sandwiches.
Any dish can be a la carte or can include chips and a drink, and extra ingredients are available.
The most expensive is the "Club Optimus" with roast beef, bacon, cheese, onion and Texas toast for $6.50 without extra ingredients. She serves smoothies in 12 fruit flavors.
"Standing right here, there are two different voices competing for our attention and our minds," Luu said, "the good and the evil. It's easy to take the evil way, and the evil way will work better on earth. But if we go the way God wants us to, we'll be tested many times before our efforts bear fruit. I'm determined to follow the right way and make a success, to make enough money to really help."
Contact Don Bolding at email@example.com or (254) 501-7557.