Donny Chin Seattle’s Unsung Hero


I had just received a blog post from Pam of nerdseyeview.com fame and her red photo hit me. Hey I know that dude,  that’s Donny in Seattle. IMG_6812No don’t tell me… yes it was a memorial honoring him. I flashed back to Seattle just a few months ago in May installing my exhibition at the Wing Luke Museum and while on a break I strolled around the building I noticed signs in the alleyway. I normally don’t walk down alleys but this one seemed friendly. I spotted one of the Museum staff members having lunch inside this curio shop, so I knew this had to be a great place and a good person owned it as I was beckoned into the store. The stories and the Asian “bric a brac” as Mom would say drew me back a  half dozen times as I found things to add to my installation and best of all talk story with Donny.  He gifted me the giant Filipino wooden spoon since he said he couldn’t find the fork.  I was very proud to display it knowing it would bring good luck. On my visits to Donny’s store I found out that he was a Paramedic that started his own ambulance company here in Chinatown aka The International District. He explained to me that when the Asian elders in the community would call 911 for help that it took too long for the other ambulance companies to get there due to the language barrier and all.  As a result many of “our elders would die before the Emergency crew could get here”. This was happening far too many times, so he started his own fleet of Emergency Responders IDECInternational District Emergency Center based in the neighborhood. He himself trained his teamwebSowallTahanan, members of the neighborhood, who were now able to save lives, could be their cousin, best friend, auntie in need of their care. His neighbors, friends and family were getting the help they deserved thanks to Donny’s vision. I was so impressed by his grassroots activism that I went home to tell friends at Stanford about him.  Being an emergency room nurse myself, it was easy to share stories while others would lose their lunch listening to us talk shop. He went on to tell me about these beautiful red bricked buildings that once belonged to his family including the historical grocery store that was a part of the Wing Luke Museum tour. Donny explained that his family were long time merchants in Seattle and that his grandparent’s generation were the pioneers that formed the Asian community here in the Northwest. Aside from the history of the neighborhood he told me the best places to eat. Donny promised me that he would come to my exhibition and he did. After meeting Donny Chin, others told me about his many contributions to the community, his dedication to people of all ages who held him on a pedestal, this humble guy. I was surprised and saddened to hear of his mysterious passing, caught in the crossfire. Convinced that only the good die young, I felt blessed to have had the opportunity to meet  and talk with Donny and to learn of his legacy. I will remember your ability to talk story, your humor, and your passion to serve.  May we all learn from you and continue to fight for justice in our neighborhoods  and for the disenfranchised wherever and whomever they may be.  Amen


About Terry Acebo Davis ARTIST

Studio in Palo Alto, California
Image | This entry was posted in Artistic, Beliefs, Sojourns and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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