May 29, 2020: Sherri Chu, the front desk coordinator at ICHS Legacy House in Seattle, puts a mask on resident Chen Zhixian. “We try our best to make sure the residents wear a mask,” Chu says. (Photo by Karen Ducey)

This piece is part of COVID-19 in 2020: A look back on health equity & community resilience in Chinatown-International District. The project was led by Seattle photo-journalist Karen Ducey and former ICHS marketing and communications manager Angela Toda in partnership with International Examiner. The project was funded by Historic South Downtown, King County 4Culture, and Society of Professional Journalists.

International Community Health Services (ICHS) is a non-profit community health center, deeply rooted in the Asian and Pacific Islander community, with a mission to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate health and wellness services and promote health equity for all.

Its mission began 48 years ago when community activists fought to ensure that elders in the Chinatown-International District and Beacon Hill had access to health care. Today, ICHS serves over 27,000 patients in more than 50 languages at 11 clinics and sites in Seattle, Bellevue and Shoreline.

Last year, with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, ICHS began documenting the historic events taking place in the CID neighborhood as part of a project for historical preservation, education and advocacy.

The project sought to capture the impacts of COVID-19, the community resilience in response to the pandemic, and the Black Lives Matter movement in the neighborhood. The project was also a chance to preserve long-time voices and institutions under threat and highlight the efforts of a rising, new generation of community residents, entrepreneurs, and activists.

June 30, 2020: (Left to right) Former ICHS Foundation executive director Ron Chew and 2020 ICHS marketing team Theo Bickel, Angela Toda, and Debbie Louie. The marketing team learns about the history of the Chinatown-International District from Chew, who is also a historian and author. (Photo by Karen Ducey)

The project was led by Seattle photo-journalist Karen Ducey and former ICHS marketing and communications manager Angela Toda in partnership with International Examiner. The project was funded by Historic South Downtown, King County 4Culture, and Society of Professional Journalists.

“When [ICHS] serves the community, it’s much broader than checking vitals and treating ailments,” said Ron Chew, who first put the project into motion as the former executive director of ICHS Foundation. “Part of our role is to help share the stories of the community we serve and document our history.”

Over the course of the project, Ducey produced over 60 photoshoots and Toda interviewed dozens of people. Chew said the project was able to get “stories that slipped under the radar” of mainstream coverage throughout 2020.

June 2, 2020: A couple walks past boarded up businesses in the Chinatown-International District. Businesses boarded up after a night of rioting swept up Jackson Street on May 29 following national unrest after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (Photo by Karen Ducey)

“Because [ICHS] is right in the community, we are in a particular strong position to hear those stories and make them heard.”

You can find more stories and images of community resilience in the CID and API communities in 2020 on the International Examiner’s website.

For more COVID-19 coverage, click here

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