Elderly residents get pre-holiday gift
Volunteers from ek Real Estate Group help elderly residents with car washing on Dec. 5. The 53 residents of Nikkei Manor, a predominantly Japanese-American assisted living facility in Seattle’s International District, received an early holiday gift this year. Closing their Fisher Plaza office doors on a sunny November day, the jean-and-tee-shirt-clad staff of ek Real Estate Group washed cars and buses; raked and cleared the grounds; planted tulip and daffodil bulbs; and polished everything from doorknobs to baseboards to ceiling-high bamboo trim at the not-for-profit 50-apartment downtown senior development.

The real estate firm has a special tie with the facility. “We’ve serviced the real estate needs of some of the residents and it was especially gratifying to join them in their new community,” says Edward Krigsman, president and CEO of ek Real Estate Group. “Being of service is at the core of our company mission and we devote a day each year to community service. We selected Nikkei Manor—a richly inventive, compassionate senior housing development—because of the exemplary care they’ve provided to some of our clients.”

ID Special Review District Board elect 2 new members
The 2006 International Special Review District Board election was held on Tuesday, Nov. 21. Two positions were up for election this year. Robert Ha won Position #3 for a District business person, property owner or employee. Amalia Gonzales-Kahn won Position #5, an at-large position. The two new Board members began their terms in December.

The special character of the International District is recognized and protected by City Ordinance. In 1973, the International Special Review District Board was created to preserve, protect and enhance the cultural, economic and historical qualities of the District. The Board is composed of seven members – five elected by the International District community and two appointed by the Mayor. Board members’ terms are for two years and members may serve up to two consecutive terms.

The current board members are Dr. Austen Chan, Jerry Chihara, Freeman Fong, Amalia Gonzales-Kahn, Robert Ha, Hoa Tang, and Jan Johnson.

Nickels nominates Stella Chao as director of Department of Neighborhoods
Examiner Assistant Editor
While growing up in Queens, N.Y., Stella Chao recalled during an interview with the International Examiner last month: “I was always volunteering for something. And I wondered, could I ever do community work full time.”

Chao, who also grew up homeless at times from ages 7 to 16 and recently served as executive director of the International District Housing Alliance (IDHA), was nominated to become the new director of the city’s Department of Neighborhoods, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels announced on Dec. 13.

With an annual budget of $8 million and nearly 90 employees, The Department of Neighborhoods “works to bring government closer to the residents of Seattle by engaging them in civic participation; helping them become empowered to make positive contributions to their communities; and by involving more of Seattle’s underrepresented residents, including communities of color and immigrants, in civic discourse, processes and opportunities,” the statement from the mayor’s office read that announced Chao’s nomination. “Through strong partnerships with Seattle residents, the department plays a central role in carrying out the mayor’s goal of building strong families and healthy communities.”

“Chao’s experience includes leadership of a community-based nonprofit organization that provided multilingual and multicultural services for low-income households with a specialization in serving immigrants and refugees,” the mayor’s announcement also stated. “Nickels said Chao will play a pivotal role in his immigrant and refugee initiative.”

“Stella has a passion for bringing people together, building community and serving the residents of Seattle,” Nickels said. “This is a city of great neighborhoods and strong communities. Stella’s grass roots experience building a strong community-based organization in the International District makes her a great fit to lead the Department of Neighborhoods.”

“I am excited about this opportunity to strengthen the bridges between community members and government, and develop avenues of civic engagement that are as diverse as Seattle’s population,” Chao said.

Mayor Nickels selected Chao, 51, after an extensive nationwide search. Bernie Matsuno served as acting director since April of this year. Chao’s appointment is subject to approval by the Seattle City Council.

During the Examiner interview, Chao had just stepped down from leading IDHA. As to her next career move, she said at the time that she is “only jumping at opportunities that stir me.”

“It’s more about the scope of the work and who I work for. I want to learn.”

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