As music pumps by means of the Northgate Community Center gymnasium, older grown ups go their bodies to their have beats. A person woman marches in place and turns her head back and forth. A man sits on the floor and stretches his legs. A group walks around the gym’s perimeter.

Azmera Gebre calls to the strolling team in Tigrinya, their indigenous language, and encourages them to pump their arms as they rate. She joins the trio and they all chuckle as she mirrors their movements. It’s almost lunchtime smells of cooked vegetables and injera, a spongy flatbread currently being ready waft from the nearby kitchen area.

Work out and lunches are a standard component of the East African Elders Meal Plan held weekly in Northgate for East African citizens in the Seattle spot aged 60 and more mature. Those who appear also pray and talk about their shared activities — many are immigrants or refugees from Ethiopia, Eritrea and neighboring countries.


The program presents much more than a healthy meal — it is been a lifeline for the East African group of older older people through the COVID-19 pandemic. Vendors make sure each and every attendee is vaccinated, deliver in healthcare workers for blood strain checking and deliver the more mature grown ups house with groceries, hand sanitizer and transit maps. They also get to socialize, an amenity that was sorely missing throughout stay-at-household orders.

The East African meals software is just one of the web sites in a Neighborhood Eating community coordinated by Sound Generations, in partnership with other organizations. Seem Generations serves King County’s more mature grown ups and older people with disabilities and is 1 of a dozen nonprofits benefiting from readers’ donations to The Seattle Periods Fund for These in Will need.

Audio Generations, which used to be referred to as Senior Services, has operated in King County for a lot more than 60 decades and is the biggest complete companies service provider for more mature grown ups and caregivers in Washington condition. The nonprofit focuses on four key concerns: meals security, transportation, health and wellness, and assistance providers.

Each individual 12 months, The Seattle Moments Fund for People in Require raises cash for charities that support small children, family members and senior citizens. In the course of the period, we’re telling the tales of persons and companies who make a difference in the life of hundreds, and the affect donors can have. 

▪︎ Make a tax-deductible donation to the Fund for Those in Want

The pandemic compelled the nonprofit to modify how it supplied products and services, and the impacts of the pandemic underscored the significance of the resources Audio Generations presents. The results of social isolation strike more mature grown ups, a populace previously vulnerable to loneliness, in particular tricky. Deep, sustained loneliness can affect actual physical health, putting more mature grown ups at larger chance for some ailments, as perfectly as psychological wellness, exacerbating or primary to signs and symptoms of clinical problems this sort of as depression. Gurus say this can particularly be correct for more mature adults who are immigrants, gals and these who are reduced-earnings.

The pandemic took a toll on group members’ psychological wellness, explained Michael Neguse, a group activist who served launch the Northgate system about three yrs ago. They ended up isolated and not able to go to ethnic neighborhood facilities or church buildings. Other senior facilities closed, but even if 1 was open up, there would probably be a language barrier preventing the elders from attending.

Neguse generally got phone calls from East African seniors, asking when the system would resume.

Members of the East African community come  together for a meal at Northgate Community Center. The program offers culturally familiar and nutritious food. 
 (Daniel Kim / The Seattle Times)


“They have been achieving out to me when they experienced a trouble,” he reported. “They held expressing they had experienced enough. They had been quarantining in their households, and they skipped the elements of meeting for lunch and socializing.”

The Local community Eating system serves about 20,000 foods per month at 19 internet sites throughout King County. Some cater to just one sort of cuisine, like weekly Polynesian, Latino or Ukrainian foods, for instance, and other folks give a assortment of dining solutions and distinctive holiday and birthday lunches. About 50 percent have reopened their structures for indoor dining, with smaller potential than just before the pandemic. The relaxation provide takeout foods.

Alongside with Foods on Wheels, a delivery method for seniors and caregivers who may have problem browsing or cooking, the corporation is on monitor to give practically 750,000 meals this yr, according to Brittany Blue, the nonprofit’s chief marketing and philanthropy officer. Which is an improve from 2020, when the two plans presented additional 600,000 meals.

Also in 2020, Sound Generations’ transportation volunteers gave about 12,500 rides to seniors to health care appointments caregiver guidance helped about 400 caregivers with a single-on-just one counseling and team classes and the Geriatric Regional Assessment Group presented assessments and interventions for 81 older older people who ended up escalating towards disaster.

Akberet Kahsay eats a bowl of soup during lunch at Northgate Community Center. The East African meals program is one of the sites in a Community Dining network coordinated by Sound Generations, in partnership with other organizations. (Daniel Kim / The Seattle Times)


For the Neighborhood Dining plan, the various offerings are what make it one of a kind, Blue claimed. The chefs glance at the neighborhood coming as a result of their doorway and make confident the foods are culturally acceptable, alternatively than inquiring the diners to acclimate or take in foods they may well not be acquainted with.

“You never have to give up your lifestyle to eat effectively,” Blue stated.

But ahead of ingesting, they get the job done up an appetite with physical exercise. A single of the girls in the going for walks trio is Degnesh Mengesha, who is in her 70s and immigrated from Ethiopia about 15 several years in the past. She has high blood strain, so she’s not in a position to do significantly work out at her Ballard household, exactly where she lives by yourself, like about 3-fourths of the individuals in Sound Generations’ meals security plans. But at the Northgate program she can move all over while supervised, and her blood pressure has lowered considering that she commenced heading to the workout periods.

“It’s excellent for keeping in condition, and for coordination,” Mengesha explained via a translator.

When she was completed talking, she joined her two work out mates and continued their walk about the health club.

In King County, more than 40,000 King County citizens were born in East Africa, and the group has grown speedily more than the very last several many years. The inhabitants is mostly concentrated in Southeast Seattle, but the range of citizens has greater in North Seattle, which local community members attribute in aspect to gentrification.  

Audio Generations

Your pounds at work

Audio Generations is the major detailed solutions provider for older grown ups and caregivers in Washington point out. For information and facts: soundgenerations.org

$25 pays for 5 foods sent by means of Meals on Wheels

$50 provides schooling for a volunteer to assistance older grown ups realize their legal legal rights and selections for wellness insurance policy

$100 resources small home repairs in the household of an adult older or grownup with a incapacity

$250 offers a assist group, hosted by a social worker, for unpaid caregivers or people who are impacted by memory decline

$500 offers 50 lunches for older grownups in the Neighborhood Dining application

The group that arrives to the Northgate program is scaled-down than before the pandemic, when about 50 people today would appear every 7 days. Each and every attendee wears a mask and, for the duration of meals, sits at the conclusion of extended tables distanced from each and every other. Everybody should also current proof of vaccination. They walk from the fitness center to a multipurpose area upcoming to the kitchen, and just after a prayer, Gebre brings out a tray of soup bowls although a single worker spoons servings on to plates and a different organizes grocery bags.  

Alefech Berhe, center, prays with other East African community members before receiving their main course at Northgate Community Center. (Daniel Kim / The Seattle Times)


All through the pandemic, Sound Generations listened to tales of more mature older people on a minimal profits who experienced to choose involving paying out for prescription drugs or a healthy meal. Organizers also recognized they necessary to incorporate additional services than just meals and training, Blue mentioned. So on this Tuesday, for example, a table in the corner of the space had stacks of pamphlets and flyers about transportation, with bus maps and directions for how to get an ORCA card.

“It did not sit correct for us to say ‘come to a meal’ and then say ‘you need to go here for extra assets,’” she stated. “They current so several requirements, so we required to acquire that supplemental stage to tackle all their wants.”

As they go away, each individual diner normally takes a to-go bag of groceries like kale, butter and lentils. They’ll be again subsequent week for the very same food, exercise and socialization.

“Especially throughout COVID, people today were being by itself,” Gebre said. “When they get with each other, you see their joy. That tends to make me pleased.”