Amplifying Black Voices: VSHSL Partners Spotlight

King County observes the Juneteenth federal holiday to celebrate and honor the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. While Juneteenth is a celebration of emancipation, we must still remember the fight for a racially-just future is ongoing and we must continue to fight for racial equity and address the disparities that exist in our communities. To celebrate Juneteenth, and to stand in solidarity with the Black community in King County, the Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy (VSHSL) honors the work of our Black-led community partners.  

VSHSL’s Black-led community partners are leaders in their communities and work daily to bring critical services, such as health programming for seniors and reentry housing services, to King County residents. 

Making an impact in King County’s communities 

Central Area Senior Center (CASC): CASC serves over 1,400 seniors each year and offers a range of programs addressing social, educational, and health needs of older adults 55+ and their caregivers. As a part of their health promotion services, CASC’s Get Moving with Us! program supports older adults in learning how to improve and maintain their health through African drumming and dance. Traditionally in many African countries, song and dance represent teaching and the importance of social values, celebrating special events and major life milestones. For many seniors at CASC, Get Moving with Us! is an opportunity to engage in a social activity, strengthen muscles, improve coordination, and sharpen their memory, in a culturally appropriate way.  

Get Moving with Us! Dance demonstration at the 2022 VSHSL Summit.

YWCA (Passage Point program): YWCA’s Passage Point program supports parents exiting incarceration so that they re-enter their communities with appropriate support and start the journey to reunification with their children. Black/African Americans incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites persons. This program offers culturally competent supportive housing, services, and advocacy for this community. Passage Point offers a variety of services including intensive case management, referrals to mental health and substance use counseling, and financial literacy and budgeting support.  

African American Reach and Teach Health Ministry (AARTH): AARTH is a Black-led community organization that addresses health disparities and inequities in healthcare services to the Black/African American community. Many Black/African American seniors face significant health disparities and disproportionate rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases due to structural racism and harmful systems. AARTH offers a program to seniors called Elders Living and Aging Well (ELAW) that encompasses evidence-based health promotion classes, culturally competent health education, and a variety of workshops to target healthy aging in the Black/African American community.  

A local chef partnered with AARTH to show older adults how to prepare Gullah okra & shrimp with roasted butternut squash. She tailored demonstrations and recipes for those living with diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic pain, and other chronic diseases.

VSHSL Black-led community partners 

VSHSL’s Black-led community partners serve residents across King County. Visit the websites linked below to learn more about services offered in your community. 

  • African Community Housing & Development: Provides outreach, interpretation, case management and connection to social services in partnership with leading legal service agencies to prevent African Diaspora vulnerable populations, including seniors, from experiencing eviction/homelessness. African Community Housing & Development also provides physical activity programing for African descent seniors. 
  • Black Women’s Coalition to End Violence: Comprehensive training and prevention outreach program engaging youth, coupled with peer-to-peer healing and restorative circle practices, led by those directly impacted by gun violence.   
  • Eritrean Association of Greater Seattle: Senior Virtual Village expanding to increase capacity to serve Eritrean seniors throughout King County. 
  • Ethiopian Community in Seattle: Chronic disease education, physical activity, healthy meals, health fairs, mental health supports, and social service supports program for Ethiopian seniors. 
  • Intercultural Children Family Services: provides services to support kinship mentoring, flexible funding, and training to senior kinship caregivers throughout King County, with focus on African American and Native American informal kinship caregivers who are in the early stages of the kinship care connections. 
  • Mother Africa: Social and educational activities for immigrant and refugee African elders. 
  • Somali Community Services of Seattle: Social and intergenerational activities and community events for Somali elders and youth. 
  • Somali Family Safety Task Force: Emerging Senior Virtual Village developing a program of connections to support Somali seniors living in New Holly/Othello. Somali Family Safety Task Force also provides mobile advocacy support to survivors of domestic and sexual violence focusing on Somali and other African immigrant and refugee communities 
  • Somali Health Board: Twice weekly group gatherings focused on exercise, health education, and socializing, combined with individual home visits, for Somali seniors. 
  • Urban Family Center Association: Community-led programming with an investment in anti-racist systems to support a web of care for children and youth with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.  Urban Family Center Association also supports a community safety and youth-focused violence prevention and response effort focused on Skyway and Renton.  
  • Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle: Provides financial education workshops and services centering African American communities. Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle also provides culturally- and community-appropriate pathfinding services (outreach), tailored to the experiences and needs of veterans of color.  
  • Women United: provides kinship mentoring in the greater Skyway area, focusing on services for senior kinship caregivers who are women of color through a network model that includes support, opportunity, and community building.  

The VSHSL is grateful for our Black partner organizations, Black staff, and Black residents in King County. Your advocacy, positive impact, and service are invaluable and without you our region would not be where we are today in the fight to dismantle racist and harmful systems. Thank you for your continued commitment to serving King County’s communities.  

In celebration of Juneteenth, join us and residents across King County, in spending this holiday learning about the historical legacy of Juneteenth, and the great contributions Black and African American communities have made across our nation. 

“Even though the story has never been tidy, and Black folks have had to march and fight for every inch of our freedom, our story is nonetheless one of progress.” —Michelle Obama 

Upcoming Juneteenth Events across King County