TORRANCE, Calif. – Door by door and floor by floor, Project Access Resident Services Coordinator Charles Kim delivers soup to the 14 floors of a building of over 200 seniors in Torrance.
It’s a warm setting in the midst of this crisis - seeing these seniors confined to their apartments - poking their heads out to say "hi" to each other and the youngest person in the building.
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“Seniors are very near and dear to my heart, as corny as that sounds. I didn’t grow up with many grandparents. And I feel like through this job I’ve inherited 180 grandparents,” said Kim.
But what you hear gives more context to these deliveries. The “thank you’s” are in Korean, sometimes Chinese...
A big part of Kim’s job is translating in this section 8 building filled with low-income seniors, many of whom don’t speak English, as you can imagine during this time when information is essential, can be made even more critical if you need it translated.
Kathy Kim - unrelated - is one of Kim's most appreciative friends.
“He's so friendly and I'm satisfied. He tells me things I don't know about in Korean and I really like it," she said.
Even in these uncomfortable times, he asks if we have masks, if we don't...and says he'll bring them over from other communities. He asks if we have hand sanitizer, etc. He asks if we're bored, can he bring us games?“ she added in Korean.
Soup deliveries and bingo games keep these seniors active and fed, but Kim and Project Access provide services that extend far beyond the building.
In 2019, the organization helped nearly 20,000 seniors nationwide with everything from social security benefits to delivering over-the-counter medication.
“When you don’t understand what’s going, you feel lost and you’re confused and just to have someone there to set things straight for you, I think it makes a world of difference,” said Kim.
As a former foster child himself, he sees these seniors as family. His services now are perhaps more important than ever.
“Having that safety net and just knowing someone has their back in times like COVID-19... I think that’s why programs like Project Access are so essential,” said Kim.
Delivering the promise that they’re not alone.