Spring 2018 Newsletter

Big Changes Coming to Little Saigon

Support Helping Link, Becoming Involved

Over the coming months and years, Little Saigon will experience transformative changes. With Seattle’s booming economy and runaway growth, Little Saigon has become a hot spot for new development. Today, three large scale developments are in the works, representing over 800 new housing units, plus commercial spaces and more. In addition, two nonprofit projects are preparing to start construction, one that will include 60 units of affordable housing and one that will provide supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals. The area does need new development with many buildings in poor condition and some properties sitting vacant and derelict. The big question is, with so much new development happening in a short span of time, how can we protect and strengthen the Little Saigon that we know and love? How can Little Saigon retain its cultural identity and character, retain its rich fabric of small businesses, and enhance its standing as the social, cultural and economic hub for the Vietnamese community?

The area centered around the intersection of 12th Ave S and S Jackson St was built by visionary Vietnamese American community members as a business and cultural hub for the Vietnamese community. Over the years, it has established a strong cultural identity with the Vietnamese community and a vibrant small business community with a local and regional draw. The City of Seattle officially designated the area as Little Saigon in 1998. Little Saigon’s strength grows from its rich fabric of small mom-and-pop businesses catering to the needs of the Vietnamese community. Most of these businesses rent their spaces, thus new development threatens to displace them. With planned redevelopments, many businesses have Big Changes Coming to Little Saigon already closed or moved away, not able or willing to withstand the uncertainty of their future tenancy in buildings slated for redevelopment.

Helping Link has rented space in its current location in the Asian Plaza in the heart of Little Saigon for over 17 years. The Asian Plaza owners have kindly provided Helping Link with its office and classroom spaces at a deeply discounted rent. This has been a tremendous support to Helping Link and is deeply appreciated. Now, the prospects of the Asian Plaza building being torn down for redevelopment and rental rates in Little Saigon rising are upon us. Because of this, Helping Link is exploring alternate models to allow us to continue to serve the community we love and remain in Little Saigon. Having the only Vietnamese community-based human services organization situated in the heart of Little Saigon has served Helping Link and the community well.

At this turning point in Little Saigon’s future, sustaining Helping Link in Little Saigon is more important than ever. With today’s political environment of xenophobia and racism, Helping Link’s social and community support is critically important and relevant. As a legacy entity and anchor for Little Saigon threatened with displacement, as an organization providing much needed social support for community members, as a longtime organization with strong relationships and networks reaching out into the community, now is the time that we need your support and involvement. Now, more than ever, Helping Link needs community members to become involved, to take action, and support both Helping Link and Little Saigon. Helping Link remains deeply committed to continuing to serve Little Saigon and the Vietnamese community. Please stand with us.

Thank You, Cảm Ơn

Kudos to everyone who has made a contribution in support of Helping Link’s mission, including corporations, foundations, and friends.

Connecting & Empowering

Fun Times @ Our Lunar New Year Booth!

Taken at Tết in Seattle 2018

National Volunteer Week, April 15 – April 21

The success of Helping Link runs on the hard work and time of our volunteers. Without these individuals, Helping Link would not be able to achieve our milestones. Thank you, Cảm ơn!

Ken Kodama

After a long career as a corporate executive, I made the decision to leave the business world for the nonprofit world. As a part of this transition, I went back to school to get my Certification in Nonprofit Management at UW and was looking for real nonprofit experience that could add to my academic work. In February of 2017, I found out about Helping Link and decided to volunteer.

At the time, I wasn’t so concerned about what Helping Link did specifically; though, I did feel I wanted to give my time and energy to an organization working with Asian immigrants because of my family history: my grandparents immigrated to Seattle in the very early 1900s, and thus, I felt a strong personal tie to Helping Link’s mission and vision.

My primary work at Helping Link is on the Fund Development team, where we research and apply to grants as well as organize fund events. This has proved to be interesting and challenging work due to complex and competitive application processes at foundations, local government, and companies in the Seattle area. We have successfully received grant funding that goes towards our programs and the mission of Helping Link. It is truly gratifying to see the impact of my volunteer work in this way.

In addition to the experience I gained in nonprofit fundraising, I see one of the strengths of Helping Link as the Executive Director, Minh-Duc Nguyen, and her mentoring of the volunteers. As a strong community activist, she has given me the opportunity to participate in important community meetings. These meetings helped me really understand how the work in the community affects the Asian population here and, by extension, important issues such as homelessness, immigration, and inequality affecting Seattle and the nation.

Though I started out with the desire as a volunteer to give to the community, I feel I have gained more than I have given while working with Helping Link. As Helping Link faces challenges in 2018, I am confident that under the leadership of Minh-Duc, it will continue to have a strong future serving their clients and the community as a whole.

Emily Zink

My introduction to Helping Link was an invite to a wonderful holiday party. I then officially started as a graphic designer at the end of December 2017. I immediately jumped in with redesigning our website’s homepage, and shortly after that joined in the prep for Tết in Seattle, the annual Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration at Seattle Center.

Initially, I did not really understand how big and significant this event was to Helping Link and the Vietnamese community in general. After a few weeks of intense, but fun work setting up with the team, the importance of Tết became a lot clearer to me. We created decorations and planned the layout for our booth and designed and sent out Tết cards to our donors. My personal pride was in making a trifold that could be used as a promotional tool at any Helping Link event. The event itself was a blast, and I saw for myself Helping Link’s impact on the community. Many clients, past and present, stopped by to reconnect and share their stories of how Helping Link has impacted their lives.

To say that Helping Link has had a major positive impact on my life would be an understatement. There’s something really rare and powerful about coming into a space where you are always greeted with a smile, a “Hello!” and a “How are you doing?”, where you are always needed and appreciated—where you can really make a difference, not just to the clients, but to your fellow volunteers. My experience so far has been humbling to a fault, especially to someone who’s usually so self-centered like myself.

Since Tết in Seattle, I’ve created several banner graphics and continued updates to our website. We’ve put together a great plan for future graphic designs for Helping Link, and I can’t wait to see the outcome of our work. I’m looking forward to more personal growth at Helping Link!

Helping Link’s Community Strengthening Activities

  • E.S.L. (English as a Second Language)
  • V.S.L. (Vietnamese as a Second Language)
  • Basic Computer/iPad
  • U.S. Citizenship
  • Information & Referral Services
  • Translation/Interpretation

Are You Looking to Make a Difference in the Seattle Immigrant & Refugee Vietnamese-American Community?

Every contribution, whether big or small, makes a difference to support Helping Link’s goals, initiatives, and
sustainability to help our expanding clientele. No matter the size, every contribution helps.

Are You Interested in Becoming a Volunteer?

We are always welcoming new volunteers and board members. Please visit www.helpinglink.org for more information. Together, we can continue to offer Vietnamese refugees and Vietnamese-American immigrants the tools they need for self-empowerment and independent lives.

What Impact Can You Make?

You will make a significant difference in our clients’ lives from cultural integration to technology and language fluency. Our clients range from all ages and backgrounds. Our continual support from our sponsors and donations helps run our free services and facility to provide valuable knowledge and skills to our clients for a lifetime.

Together, we can achieve the extraordinary