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Vancouver non-profit raising funds to support low-income seniors in Chinatown

(Courtesy Yarrow Intergenerational Society for Justice)

Vancouver's Yarrow Society has been supporting low-income seniors during the pandemic, and need some financial help

The society helps deliver groceries to seniors and many of them are nervous stepping outside

According to the VPD, anti-Asian hate crimes went up by 717 per cent in the past year

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A group that supports low-income seniors in Vancouver’s Chinatown and Downtown Eastside needs financial help getting through the pandemic as a sharp increase in anti-Asian hate crimes adds an extra layer of vulnerability.

Yarrow Intergenerational Society for Justice is holding its first fundraising auction with the hopes of reaching a $50,000 goal to keep its services running at full capacity. The non-profit assists seniors get access to medical care in English and bring groceries to them so they don’t have to leave their homes.

The society’s Beverly Ho says many older people in the community are nervous about stepping outside alone.

“We’ve even heard first-hand from some of our seniors that they’ve faced verbal and physical abuse on the streets just because of the pandemic,” she tells NEWS 1130. “Things like racial slurs and telling our seniors to go back to China and that sort of thing. It’s definitely a really scary experience for them. They can’t really fight back or communicate with them sometimes. We’re just trying to do our best to protect and support them.”

Data from the Vancouver Police Department show a 717 per cent increase in attacks on Asian people in 2020. There were 98 in total, and only 12 the year before.

“I mean, it makes [the seniors] feel really scared and like they’re outsiders even though a lot of them have lived here for many years and are Canadian citizens, as well,” Ho says. “It’s definitely something that they don’t need to go through as well on top of all the linguistic and cultural barriers.”

Last May, police noted a “staggering” increase in anti-Asian crimes in Vancouver. There were 29 hate-related crimes that month.

“Earlier this year, after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we identified a disturbing trend: an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes and hate-related incidents,” Deputy Chief Constable Howard Chow said last year. “I’m saddened, disturbed, and disappointed to report that despite police efforts, despite engagement with community, and public concern and outrage, this trend continues in the city.”

Ho says she wants to make sure the care the seniors have been given can be kept up as long as the pandemic continues.

“I think the fundraising is coming at a good time, and is much needed,” she adds.

The auction launched Wednesday and features work from local artists and businesses. The society also has a fundraising page for donations.

-with files from Monika Gul and Hana Mae Nassar