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Community steward Tanya Woo boosts public safety in the very neighborhood she grew up in

By Stacy Nguyen, journalist, designer, and community member

Tanya Woo’s smiling, friendly face is a common sight in and around the Chinatown International District (CID), having grown up in the CID.

Tanya is part of the Woo family, who have been stewards of the historic Louisa Hotel since the 1960s, which housed jazz clubs, world travelers, and more during its heyday in the early 20th century. Today, the preserved and renovated Louisa Hotel features apartments, retail, restaurant space, and historic jazz murals, ensuring that Tanya continues to stay busy — and passionately embedded in the local community.

Public safety has been top of mind for Tanya over the past few years. She has personally witnessed how the uptick in COVID-related racism, as well as vandalism and burglaries, made an already-vulnerable community — made up of API elders — even more scared for their safety. And Tanya knew that she had to and could do something about this.

Each month, Tanya spends countless hours attending public safety meetings, leading safety walks, organizing volunteers, prepping supplies, facilitating senior escorts, fundraising and grant writing, organizing self-defense seminars, and moderating the CID Community Watch’s Facebook page.

Tanya also happens to be one of the leaders of the CID Community Watch, a volunteer-led group that conducts night watches each and every week. By showing strength in numbers and through being neighborly, CID Community Watch deters crime by being very visible, activates the CID, and tracks neighborhood safety needs.

The historic Louisa Hotel in Chinatown International District

What drives Tanya to tirelessly serve her community is seeing the results of the community watch — which is often subtle. While there are nights when Tanya and volunteers have encountered and de-escalated pretty stressful situations, there are also quiet nights when nothing happens. Every night feels meaningful to Tanya.

Tanya has also been shaped by her dad dying when she was young.  “I didn’t really know him. Through volunteering in the community, I hear stories about my dad. I feel like the more I get to know my neighborhood, the more I learn about my father, my heritage, and myself.”

How to give Tanya some love

Donate to CID Community Watch!

Tanya helps lead and volunteers with CID Community Watch all the time, and she’d love for you to help give support to this group. There are many ways to give them some love, such as attending their events, donating to them, and volunteering with them. Learn and do all these things via their website!

Follow her on social media

In addition to promoting public safety, Tanya is also a talented dancer and a font of fascinating information on the historic Louisa Hotel. Follow her on her social media to stay connected. She’s on Instagram and Facebook!

This blog is part of our Support Your Neighbors in the CID series, which spotlights amazing folks in the Chinatown International District, nominated by their neighbors for doing cool and impactful work around community safety.