Danville Express

Newsfront - June 29, 2007

Asian culture club looking for permanent location

Founder hopes to share facility with Danville seniors

by Jordan M. Doronila

Asian seniors and residents need more cultural services in Danville, said a health clinician.

Social worker Chia-Chia Chien told the Danville Town Council at its meeting in early June that Asian seniors need a permanent home in the community. Approximately 9 percent of Danville residents are Asians, she said.

"The town needs to have services geared to more diversity," said Chien, noting there are not enough services tailored to the town's Asian population.

"That's the first of (hearing from) the Asian community," said Councilwoman Candace Andersen.

As town staff members are considering facilities that seniors can use consistently, they may contemplate having Chinese seniors use the same space.

"We are open to all kinds of great ideas," Andersen said.

Currently, Chien's Culture to Culture Foundation, which is composed of Chinese seniors, cultural groups and programs, meets at the Alamo Women's Club. But it only rents the space for the duration of the meeting, Chien said.

"We have to pack and take things away," she said. "It's really difficult."

Chien noted there are linguistic and cultural barriers that prevent many of the members from feeling at home here. She said she would like Chinese seniors to share permanent space in a facility with other Danville seniors.

Council members said the town is looking into the Veterans Memorial Building on Hartz Avenue as a possible permanent venue for seniors. It already houses many functions, such as senior bingo.

Culture to Culture Foundation started in 2001, and it has a Chinese program, the Chinese American Mental Health Network and other services, such as linguistic educational services. There are 500 seniors from Danville, San Ramon, Lafayette, Pleasanton, Antioch and Concord that go to the foundation at the Alamo Women's Club, said Chien.

The foundation also offers scholarships to students, who attend graduate school and seminars in martial arts, calligraphy and dance.

The Chinese American Mental Health Network began because statistics showed Asian-American women had the highest suicide rate among women over age 65, as well as the second highest rate among women ages 15 to 24.

Nearly one out of two Asian-Americans will have difficulty accessing mental health treatment because they cannot find services that meet their linguistic needs, Chien said.

She noted that her foundation's functions are open to anyone. And the town hopes its senior programs reach as many people as possible.

"We want our senior programs to meet the needs of as many people in the population as we can," Andersen. "I see this as growing."

Contact Jordan M. Doronila


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