Reimagine Seattle: Lanvin Andres

The challenges of the past year have changed the way we live, the way we work, and the way we show up for each other. They have also given us a rare chance to collectively reimagine our future. With the Reimagine Seattle Storytelling Project, we invited community members to reflect on their current experiences in Seattle, how they have been impacted by the events of 2020, and their hopes for the future of our city.

Resilience in the midst of a pandemic

by Lanvin Andres

Pre-COVID-19, our senior center, the IDIC Filipino Senior and Family Services, was the place to be. More than 600 seniors from all over the city and county participate in its activities and avail themselves of its services every year. There are free weekly meals, a food bank, bingo, board games, Filipino cable tv, fitness classes, and line dancing sessions. IDIC was the Disneyland for seniors.  

Fast forward to the end of February 2020. Washington State made the headlines. COVID-19 almost wiped out all the residents of a home care facility just outside of Seattle. That news left us with no choice. The senior center had to close indefinitely. Our seniors had to stay home. They had to be isolated. They had to remain healthy.

But how could they stay healthy? COVID took away their independence, their social life. Our senior center was their internet. It was their social media. The halls of our center were their Facebook, their Instagram. They share stories in it, show photos of their families and chat with friends. The game and activity room were their Candy Crush. It was their online gaming. The line dancing sessions and the fitness classes were their TikTok. It was their second home and it was all taken away from them.

The staff members called to check up on the seniors a week after closure…all 600 of them. With just the six staff members – each staff member called 100 people.

Many of the seniors were feeling depressed, anxious, and scared. They worried about food access. Stepping out of their homes to get food or interacting with other people could be fatal for them.

We wished we were Superman. We wished we could take COVID away, bring everything back to normal.

We needed to do something to help them out. We had no choice. But how? There were only six of us. Most, if not all, of the volunteers were seniors as well. The staff had to find a way.

So, we called on our community. We sought help. We sought support. We weren’t expecting a lot. We felt it might not work. After all, who wants to step out of their homes during this pandemic? Everyone was going through the same struggles…had the same fears.

But, to our surprise, the community responded. People we didn’t know, organizations we had not heard of – all of them responded. Donations of gallons and gallons of sanitizers and several boxes of wipes started coming in. Thousands of gloves and hundreds of masks flooded our doors. Volunteers started signing up. Students and young professionals stepped in to deliver the meals and grocery bags to all our seniors. Our call was heard and people of all ages, races, and colors united to help the often neglected and invisible members of our society. These are the people of Seattle, of King County. 

masked volunteers assembling bagged meals on tables in a long hallway
IDIC staff and volunteers assemble bagged meals

We ramped up and started delivering meals and groceries to all of our seniors. In the north, south, east, and west: we reached all of them.

The job is not yet done. There is so much work to do. The pandemic is not yet over. The struggles are still present. Let us all do our part. We must not stop. What we have done is just a droplet of water in a sea of need. The seniors in our city and community need our help. Let’s stand up for all of them.

After delivering food and groceries in one of the low-income senior apartment buildings in North Seattle, we were about to leave when we heard a tiny voice shouting our names from the 10th floor of the building. We all looked up and saw Linda, an 85-year-old elderly woman living by herself, sticking her head out of her window to get our attention. With her right hand on her chest, she bowed down to us mouthing the words “Maraming Salamat Po,” or “Thank you very much” in Filipino.

elderly woman smiling and opening her screen door to find a bagged meal on her doorstep
97-year old North Seattle resident Obdulia Castillo receiving her weekly meal delivered by staff and volunteers of IDIC

Lanvin Andres, standing outside and smiling
Lanvin Andres is a first generation immigrant from the Philippines. He came to Seattle with his parents and one sibling when he was 17. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2009 and is currently the Executive Assistant and Programs Manager for the IDIC Filipino Senior & Family Services, a nonprofit organization based in Seattle, WA. He is also a Community Liaison for the City of Seattle serving the Filipino community’s elderly, veterans, and their families.

Submissions for the Reimagine Seattle Storytelling Project were commissioned by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. The opinions expressed and information contained in each submission do not necessarily reflect the policies, plans, beliefs, conclusions, or ideas, of the City of Seattle.