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East African Elders Program Launches in North Seattle

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Sound Generations, Hunger Intervention Program, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and Horn of Africa Services have teamed up to bring healthy meals, fitness programs, recreational activities, and social work services to East African elders in north Seattle. This program launched in late August at the Northgate Community Center (10510 5th Ave NE, Seattle) and will be there every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with the meal service at noon.

An estimated 39,000 African-born individuals reside in Seattle, with the heaviest concentration in southeast and north Seattle. Informal data suggests that this concentration has increased significantly in recent years, especially in the north end. Culturally relevant services for this community are limited, and there is no other meal program in north Seattle that serves the large community of East African elders. This food and fitness program will be the first of its kind in the area.

Community activist Michael Neguse, who has led the East African Food and Fitness Program at the Yesler Community Center, said that “this program is about bringing people together and connecting older and younger generations.” He is helping to launch the north Seattle program.

Sound Generations’ Lake City Seniors program manager Claudine Wallace emphasized the need for this program: “We know that providing welcoming spaces for elders to come together to eat, socialize, exercise, and connect to resources has a huge and positive impact on healthy aging. There is a real need for this program in the north end and we are invested in growing it to serve the community.”

The nonprofit Hunger Intervention Program (HIP) will prepare and serve the meals. “HIP is committed to providing culturally appropriate, nutritious food to underserved populations,” says executive director Srijan Chakraborty. “We are excited to launch this new program [and] meet the unique cultural needs of this particular population.”

“We are dedicated to supporting healthy people, a healthy environment, and strong communities,” said Seattle Parks and Recreation interim superintendent Christopher Williams. “The new East African program helps us achieve all three of these goals by offering a culturally relevant gathering space for older adults to share a healthy meal and take part in associated recreational opportunities.” Seattle Parks and Recreation operates the Northgate Community Center located at 10510 5th Avenue NE in Seattle.

Another community nonprofit, Horn of Africa Services, provides multilingual, multicultural social work services on site and helps people connect with other services, filling a much-needed gap in services for East African elders in the north end.

Contributor Brittany Blue manages marketing and philanthropy at Sound Generations, which is Aging and Disability Services’ largest community nonprofit partner, based in Seattle. Sound Generations operates numerous senior centers throughout King County.