I am writing to point out several factual inaccuracies in the April 12 Review article headlined, “Help for survivors sometimes lost without translation.” Together they result in an unjustifiably negative portrayal of the aid organizations' efforts to help the Chinese survivors. We take this opportunity to provide a more balanced perspective.
The article states that the Chinese survivors of the Jan. 23 shooting had trouble accessing aid and that the aid that was provided was slow in coming. In fact:
▸ A substantial amount of aid was received by all the survivors, including the seven Chinese farmworkers within hours and days of the event and continues to be provided. This includes gift cards, food, clothing, financial payments, housing support, legal aid, and mental and physical health support.
▸ Three Mandarin and Cantonese translators from three different agencies were on-site at the I.D.E.S. Hall the night of the shooting and continued to support the Chinese survivors in the following days and weeks.
▸ The Chinese survivors had cultural concerns about wearing clothing that had previously belonged to a stranger. Within three days of the shooting, new clothes in the correct sizes were provided through community partnerships.
▸The Chinese survivors were unable to attend the Friday night vigil, not because they were excluded, but because they had COVID and they wanted to avoid exposing others. In addition, they chose not to come because they felt overwhelmed by the events that had happened.
▸ The day after the shooting, Mexican food was provided for all the survivors, the majority of whom were Latino. This food was culturally appropriate for most survivors. However, the day after this, Chinese food menus were provided to the Chinese survivors, and they were able to select for themselves culturally appropriate food that they wanted to eat.
The community partners involved in supporting the survivors include many nonprofits from the coast and surrounding areas including Coastside Hope, ALAS, American Red Cross, Senior Coastsiders and Self Help for the Elderly as well as city, county, state and federal government agencies. The day after the shooting, Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Mateo County Executive Officer Mike Callagy both spent time with the Chinese survivors, listening to their concerns and needs to ensure that the most appropriate and time-sensitive assistance was provided.
Government agencies and community partners continue to coordinate seamlessly and in real time to address the evolving needs of all the survivors, including the Chinese farmworkers. Active case management is on-going. The Chinese survivors are immensely grateful for the support they have received from the entire community.
We hope this letter shines a light on all the good that has come out of a very bad situation and counteracts the largely negative perspective provided in the published article.
Half Moon Bay
Editor’s note: Winter is executive director of Senior Coastsiders. It was not our intention to suggest that local nonprofits weren’t working hard to meet the needs of all survivors of the tragedy. Rather, we highlighted the disconnect some survivors and providers felt in the immediate aftermath.
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