An expansion of activities have allowed Bamboo Club to bridge the gap between Englisn and non-English speakers. • Courtesy Photo
An expansion of activities have allowed Bamboo Club to bridge the gap between Englisn and non-English speakers. • Courtesy Photo

The following is a call to the community written by Vorada Savengseuksa and Gary Tang of Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS):

At the beginning of 2015, Club Bamboo evolved into a full service center for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) seniors. What began as a senior congregate meal program operating four days a week has transformed into a comprehensive center open for membership and with expanded hours. Come join us between 9:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, courtesy of a grant from the City of Seattle Human Services Department.

Now for a $10 annual membership, people 50 or older regardless of income will have access to a full schedule of classes including cooking and art classes, yogalates, Tai Chi, Qi-Gong, and even line dancing. We will also provide transportation support, hair, and nail services, and health and wellness workshops. Don’t worry, seniors 60 and older can still enjoy a delicious and healthy ethnic lunch for just $2.50.

April Eng has been involved with Club Bamboo for three years. She started as a participant, but began volunteering as a cashier a year ago and frequents the site regularly.

She’s now a member of Club Bamboo and shares her excitement with others about the recent addition of beauty services. Seniors can sign up for a haircut or to have their nails done. These services are included with membership. April was among the first to have her hair trimmed by the volunteer hair stylist.

“Now it seems like there’s something for everyone,” said April. “Health and beauty services, camaraderie … more and more is happening and it’s all a real benefit to seniors.”

April has a point about the camaraderie coming along with the changes. AAPI seniors are the second most likely racial group to be poor within King County. Limited transportation options and English-speaking abilities can hinder AAPI older adults from accessing services, creating added barriers that are linked to social and linguistic isolation. One of the unexpected benefits of Club Bamboo’s new activity schedule is that it has enabled the seniors to step out of their comfort zone and make new friends.

“These services and activities have made it so we can bridge the gap between English and non-English speakers,” said April. Activities like line and ballroom dancing are easy for all to participate in, without feeling pressure to speak the same language. Irei Setsuko has been coming to Club Bamboo for over a year. Before the expansion of services, she would attend three, maybe four days a week. Now she routinely comes Monday through Friday to participate in activities and spend time with her new friends. “I love it so much. The people and staff are nice. Every day makes happiness,” said Irei.

What do the seniors want to see next? “Karaoke!” a group of Club Bamboo members declared. “The more you offer, the more we like,” one said with a smile.

For more information, contact Senior Center coordinator Tracee Lee at [email protected] or (206) 774-2440.

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