The Chinese American Service League (CASL) is a Chicago-based nonprofit in the heart of Chinatown. They are a little over 41-years-old and have more than 500 employees. They serve everybody from age one up to 104-years-old, providing legal counsel, home service, financial empowerment, child care, workforce development, immigration education and more. Most recently, they have also begun embarking on anti-hate initiatives in the face of violence against Asian-Americans.
The most well-respected program CASL facilitates is their wraparound services for seniors. They offer seniors adult day services, culturally appropriate emergency meals and sponsor the Albert & Bernie Wong Senior Living Community, among other support.
Their affordable senior housing facility was created a little over 25 years ago, and Embrace Living Communities has been a property management partner of CASL since its inception. This partnership was natural as both organizations have missions that align with one another, according to CASL Chief Executive Officer Paul Luu.
“We both respect our elder community,” says Luu. “Embrace Living has multiple locations throughout the Chicagoland area and has proven they can provide the support [affordable housing properties] need. Embrace Living is a great example of how to best help seniors live full and independent lives with dignity.”
Embrace Living does this by providing CASL with the support and staff they need to care for the unique population they serve. One way they do this is by hiring bilingual staff since 97% of the senior population at CASL speak some form of Mandarin or Cantonese.
Embrace Living also provides CASL with support through taking the time to understand their culture and planning events within the community accordingly. Though the pandemic has paused such festivities, birthdays are a big deal in Chinese culture, and a big deal for CASL residents and family. Embrace Living staff make a point of throwing culturally appropriate parties in honor of resident birthdays.
The same goes for the Chinese Lunar New Year. Each year (with the exception of the last two due to COVID-19), CASL brings in members of the People’s Republic of China embassy to celebrate with their residents. They also engage in traditional Chinese Lunar New Year practices such as giving two mandarin oranges to each senior, also known as Chinese New Year Candy. It’s extremely symbolic, and one of the many things the Embrace Living team works with the CASL team on to coordinate.
Programming not only applies to celebrations but is shown day-to-day through the ways Embrace Living staff have kept seniors engaged during the pandemic. Embrace Living has provided virtual exercise courses through WeChat and Facetime so that seniors can do Tai Chi or dance and stay active, even while socially distanced. They’ve also used these tools to connect virtually with residents to make sure they’re staying emotionally, mentally and socially well.
Another need Embrace Living and CASL have been able to address during the pandemic is feeding residents. Toward the beginning of the pandemic, CASL realized they needed an additional kitchen, not only to feed their residents but also the residents of five additional senior living buildings in Chicago’s Chinatown they support. Thanks to the assistance of Embrace Living, CASL now provides 5,000 culturally appropriate hot meals a week to six affordable senior living buildings.
“If I had to say three things about Embrace Living, it’s that they are professional, knowledgeable and supportive,” says Luu. “They’re always available, especially [Vice President of Operations] Greg Watson. He always ends the call with, ‘Is there anything else I can help you with?’ I can appreciate that from a Senior Executive level knowing we have someone like Greg that can be a champion of our residents, and he really cares. The same goes for the entirety of the Embrace Living team.”
Embrace Living is proud to be a property management partner of CASL and acknowledges all the amazing work they are doing for their residents, the Asian-American community and the greater Chicago community.
For more information on Embrace Living’s property management services, visit our website or contact us at (630) 766-3570.
Feel free to contact us for any future resident, current resident, or general inquiries.