A Legacy of Caring and Sharing
The International Drop-In Center
There was a time in the late 1960s when the fabled Alaskeros (fishing and cannery workers of Alaska), farm workers, Labor Union members and the elderly old-timers (who were either residents of the International District or transients coming through the Emerald City) were saddled with so much idle time that they were spilling all over the streets of downtown Seattle when they were in-between contracts. Many suffered from sheer boredom and loneliness.
In 1972, an insightful Visayan priest, Rev. Manuel Ocana, began a modest one-stop recreational room in the heart of what was then called Seattle’s Chinatown, the place we know today as the International District. With the help of another civic-spirited Filipina nun, Sister Heidi Ocampo, and a handful of caring Filipino community volunteers and students from the University of Washington, the International Drop-In Center was soon created. Because of an enthusiastic response from elderly folks and transients in the district, the IDIC began to organize and set up a working system. By 1974, the hard-working organizers had registered the IDIC with the Secretary of State in Olympia so that it could formally seek support as a non-profit entity. Thus began the colorful evolution of a community-based seniors’ center that continues to fulfill a vital need in the community: to provide a safe, viable and healthy recreation and caring programs for the elderly.
We are a Filipino nonprofit organization that provides advocacy in healthcare and social services to underserved elderly, immigrant and vulnerable families.
After four transfers to different sites over a period of three decades, the IDIC has transitioned into an integrated human and social services agency that caters to the unique needs of first-generation senior citizen-immigrants in the community. By 2009, the agency had listed up more than 350 active members who come for the programs that occupy their hours on a daily basis, five days a week. Popular programs that are patronized each week and seasonally include bingo and parlor and table games, fitness sessions, anti-depression programs and counseling, karaoke, nutrition site and food bank programs, musical instruments and hobby sessions, on-the-job training, youth and family advocacy, veterans and widows advocacy, intervention and referrals, estate planning and mediation, interpretation-translation services, choral group singing, folk dancing, excursions and summertime outings. Socials of all types are always highpoints in the IDIC members’ schedules. Birthday celebrants for each month are honored with a joint party where guests are invited. Seasonal activities during Halloween, Christmas, summer festivals, and socio-cultural events in the local Filipino-American community are popular venues for the IDIC’s song-and-dance ensembles to present their much-applauded talents and skills.
At the present home of the IDIC on Beacon Hill, a broad range of services are made available to members by a staff of trained personnel. Included in the services are immigration counseling and documentation assistance, anti-depression counseling, veterans’ advocacy and benefits application assistance, referrals, passport assistance, computer literacy sessions, food stamps counseling, social security benefits advice, Medicaid-Medicare counseling, disability benefits, low-income housing advice, and all other concerns that a needy senior citizen-immigrant may encounter.
From a humble and tiny cubicle in the heart of Chinatown founded forty years ago purposely to extend a helping hand to the least, the last, the lowly, the lonely, and the marginalized, the IDIC continues to expand in patronage and membership. It is growing to be a full-fledged human services organization with a unique and culturally-relevant mission: to enhance the dignity, sense of well-being and independence of every member and program participant.
The IDIC is managed by an Executive Director who reports to an 11-member Policy Board. With its current resources, the IDIC has a complement of full-time staff assisted by part-time trainee-employees on assignment from the City’s employment training program. Key funders and supporters of IDIC are the City of Seattle’s Aging & Disability Services (ADS), the United Way of King County (UWKC), Muckleshoot Foundation, Seattle Foundation, National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA), International Community Health Services (ICHS), Asian Counseling & Referral Service (ACRS), Pacific Asian Empowerment Program (PAEP), American Coalition for Filipino Veterans (ACFV), the Filipino Community of Seattle (FCS), local community associations and private individual donors.
We serve and assist elders and immigrant families of Seattle's Asian-Pacific Islander and Filipino-American communities in preserving their physical, mental and emotional well-being through a variety of recreational, social, cultural, educational and health-oriented programs so that their dignity, well-being, sense of independence and purpose are enhanced.
The IDIC and the populations it serves
IDIC is a non-profit advocacy and service organization dedicated to meet the unique needs of first generation elderly immigrants, retirees, and newly arrived families who relocate in King County. The populations served belong to the 24,000 Filipino-American families in King County and other Asian-Pacific Islanders (API) residing in the International District, South Seattle and suburbs. Census 2000 affirms that Filipino-Americans have the single largest population among APIs in Washington State and most reside in King County.
IDIC is a popular gathering site of 900 recorded monthly visits by elderly citizens. It attracts a variety of underserved and disabled retirees, war veterans, newly-arrived immigrants, or marginalized individuals who seek assistance or merely want to interact with their peers. We average 13,500 visits per year from the population we serve. Through volunteer work, limited staff and with tight funding, IDIC has effectively conducted programs that have contributed significantly towards the members' wellbeing and self-confidence. Among our notable accomplishments are: more members chosen as Parents of the Year, Father or Mother of the Year by civic groups; selected by university and school districts as partners in forums, surveys, socio-cultural and health care sessions; recognition by the State Governor and local officials as a leading advocate of needy war veterans and their families; year 'round collaboration with civic and faith organizations for nutrition programs, food bank extension, wellness and geriatric fitness studies, jobs training, and performing arts presentations.
IDIC’s main programs include physical-mental fitness and health education, arts and crafts, anti-depression counseling, indoor-outdoor recreational activities, folk dancing and choral singing; supplementary services include immigration counseling, referrals, housing and job search, cultural sensitivity lessons, family conflicts intervention, interpretation-translation services, traditional ethnic and cultural activities, seasonal events in collaboration with community groups.
IDIC BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Mariela Fletcher, President
Juan Pablo Paredes, Vice President
Nanette Villanueva, Secretary
Eddie Abellera, Treasurer
Leonico Panlasigui, PRO
Camilo De Guzman