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Published: Sunday, 9/2/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Asian Senior Center offers support

Asian-American elders have place to socialize

BY LIYAN CHEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Loo Yuke Sau, right, and his childhood friend Albert Yee, left, talk while spending the afternoon at the Asian Community Center on June 22, 2012. Loo Yuke Sau, right, and his childhood friend Albert Yee, left, talk while spending the afternoon at the Asian Community Center on June 22, 2012.
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In the Asian Senior Center at Highland Park in South Toledo, a dozen Asian-American elders stood in lines and slowly moved their arms in a special exercise dance.

Not far from them, a few others were sweating and running during their heated table-tennis match.

As they immersed themselves in their activities, others at nearby tables observed, laughed occasionally, and chitchatted with their friends in different Asian languages and dialects.

"They like coming here. Look at their dances. They are so cute." Mee-Len Koh, executive director of the Asian Senior Center, said.

Participants at the Asian Senior Center come from all over the world, from China and Korea to Malaysia and Vietnam. Many speak only broken English, even though they have lived in Toledo for many years.

Before the Asian Senior Center opened in 2000, many Asian and Asian-American elders did not have a place to socialize with others.

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Some have lived and worked in Toledo for many years; others moved here to join their children, according to Mrs. Koh.

After years of hardship, they now enjoy their retirement time.

"We don't speak English, so we cannot go anywhere else," Yuk Sau Loo, a 100-year-old Toledoan, said in Cantonese to a Blade reporter. "The center provides interpreters and takes us to see the doctors. It takes good care of us."

Dedicated to provide community support for Asian seniors, the center organizes a variety of activities, ranging from lectures on wellness to shopping trips to the local farmers' market.

In June, the center threw Mr. Loo a big birthday party that more than 60 elders attended.

The activity hall in Highland Park was decorated with red balloons, Mr. Loo's favorite.

The party was in three languages -- English, Mandarin, and Cantonese -- so that all seniors could understand.

"I love coming here to play ping-pong with other guys," said Frank K.W. Loo, who added that he and his wife love living in Toledo because it is more peaceful than big cities such as Los Angeles, where many of his relatives live.

The Senior Center is open on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. It opens on some Saturdays for special events.

"They are very happy when they come here," said Ms. Koh. "The center has created a community for them."



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