Transcript: Delivering hope to elders in isolation
Video link: https://crosscut.com/video/new-normal/delivering-hope-elders-isolation
Henry Liu: Hey, what's up everyone?
Henry Liu: It's Henry again on this beautiful, sunny Monday morning.
Henry Liu: Today we're gonna be passing out 120 bags of 5-pound rice and 120 bottles of vitamin C supplements to the seniors living at International House.
Henry Liu: Let's do it.
Henry Liu: Let's do, ah, team one and two first before elevators.
Apartment Resident 1: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Henry Liu: There you go.
Henry Liu: Take a good look at this crew we got here.
Henry Liu: Awesome team, let's do it.
Henry Liu: This is how we do it.
Henry Liu: Should I be filming now too or no?
Crosscut Video Producer: Yeah, go for it!
Henry Liu: Hey, my name is Henry.
Henry Liu: Right now I'm having a Zoom meeting with Aileen.
Crosscut Video Producer: Hello.
Henry Liu: I'm a community organizer and program manager at a nonprofit.
Henry Liu: Sunny, how ya feeling? How ya feeling? OK.
Henry Liu: The general demographic of people I serve is primarily Chinese senior elders.
Henry Liu: (Speaking in a foreign language)
Henry Liu: Before this happened I really just focus on hosting activities like mahjong, tai chi, cooking classes, English classes.
Henry Liu: My goal with, you know, with hosting activities and program is to make them feel youthful again and make them feel, like, they're not restricted by age.
Henry Liu: Many of the seniors, they have a mobile app called WeChat.
Henry Liu: I send them voicemails just like this like, hey, except I say it in my native tongue, which is Taishanese.
Henry Liu: It's a dialect of Chinese language.
Henry Liu: Sometimes I just send them photos of my dog.
Henry Liu: He has an Instagram, sunnythedach.
Henry Liu: We also send the emojis, yeah.
Henry Liu: We're just in constant communication.
Henry Liu: I first heard about the COVID-19 virus late January, early February.
Henry Liu: It was more of like, oh, this is happening, but it's not happening, to me so I'm not worried.
Henry Liu: But then you fast forward a couple of weeks down the road and now it's like, oh, it's a touchdown in our home and it's really starting to scare people in the neighborhood.
Henry Liu: There's not many seniors walking out on the public sidewalk anymore.
Henry Liu: They're not going to restaurants anymore.
Henry Liu: And so that's when Chinatown became almost like a ghost town, and it was just like a scene that you could never envision.
Henry Liu: I've seen posts how like there was people who, you know, physically assaulted someone because they look Asian.
Henry Liu: Also just like Jade Garden getting their window smashed.
Henry Liu: Other businesses facing that same experiences as well.
Henry Liu: And then some feedback that I've heard from my residents, they're telling me like, don't come out anymore.
Henry Liu: Like you can't take the risk of getting hurt.
Henry Liu: And it's not safe for you, even though you're big and you're strong, you don't know how many people are gonna be on the street to attack you.
Henry Liu: It's like they're always expressing some worrisome feeling for me.
Henry Liu: There was a big question mark for everyone during that time period.
Henry Liu: What are we gonna do? How are you going to serve people?
Henry Liu: I proposed to my organization like, hey, let's just start with something.
Henry Liu: Hey, what's up everyone?
Henry Liu: It's Henry here.
Henry Liu: Today is our very first day of responding to the needs of the senior residents in the CID neighborhood.
Henry Liu: We went ahead and stopped by at Uwajimaya to pick up some groceries for them
Henry Liu: We're gonna pick up some culturally appreciated food.
Henry Liu: We got some salty crackers, we got some bok choy, we got some frozen buns that they can steam up.
Henry Liu: And then we also got some purple yams here.
Henry Liu: So all of these items are requested by them.
Henry Liu: We wanna make sure that we cater to their needs specifically.
Henry Liu: We got about 13 bags today and we're gonna deliver it.
(Speaking in Chinese dialect)
Henry Liu: "You can come get it now, you can come get it now."
Henry Liu: That's how we do it guys, come on. That's what we gotta do.
Henry Liu: From there we've been reaching out to other organizations to see if they wanna do some collaboration.
Henry Liu: The wholesaler actually donated 2,000 pounds of white rice.
Henry Liu: It's crazy, it's just like there's so many people who wanna support this effort.
Henry Liu: We are going to pass out groceries again, but this time to about 800 individuals.
Henry Liu: We're gonna be working in groups of two to three volunteers and we're dividing floors by even and odd.
Henry Liu: They're there and then we go down.
Henry Liu: (Knocking on door, speaking in foreign language)
Henry Liu: Delivering groceries is the short-term goal for me.
Henry Liu: My long-term goal is building relationship.
Henry Liu: When this is all over, everything that we've built so far shouldn't come tumbling down.
Henry Liu: (Speaking in Chinese dialect)
"Hey! Here are vegetables for you!"
Henry Liu: When the next bad thing comes around, we're even more prepared for it.
Apartment Resident 2: Thank you very much!
Apartment Resident 3: Thank you. Thank you.
Henry Liu: There's so many people who wanna support this effort, and it's just amazing how in tough times the best in people come out.