By Meredith Li-Vollmer, Public Health – Seattle & King County
Even before the Trump administration announced its travel ban, Public Health staff started to notice a downturn in the number of immigrant patients coming for care at our clinics. Tina Maestas, Public Health Nurse at the Renton Community Service Organization, contacted Director Patty Hayes to express her concern.
“The Latino community is rightfully fearful and many are unaware that we are a [welcoming] county,” wrote Maestas. “As national policy takes a grim turn, we can be a beacon of light by proactively providing a safe haven as well as educating staff and all vulnerable members of our community about their rights and our commitment to the health of one unified community.”
With this in mind, we began work on a sign that would reassure and welcome everyone who came through King County’s doors, in coordination with the Office of Equity and Social Justice, the director of Customer Service and Facilities Management Division.
A group effort
It’s typically a time-consuming process for several departments to put ideas together, gather input, garner approvals, and execute a single communications product, but we all recognized the urgency –given the rhetoric about immigrants and refugees at the national level – and expedited the development of the sign so that it was finished within a week.
Laurel Preston, a graphic designer for KCIT and DNRP, worked quickly on mockups for the design while Melissa Warner and I in Public Health coordinated translation of the message into the most requested languages in King County, and also Arabic. Public Health’s medical interpreters/translators, including Irina Smith, Lisa Jaffee and Sadiya Ali, quickly turned around several translations and the rest of the languages were sent to a translation agency.
Bilingual staff from across King County helped with quality assurance checks on the translations, including Lin Song, Mohamed Ali, Sergey Kovalchuk, Matias Valenzuela, Nina Blinkova, and Olga Pugachev. Michelle Nguyen even checked the Vietnamese by sending a photo of the mock-up to the best language expert she knows—her mom!
Finally, Preston magically fit all eight languages into a single sign that reads: All Are Welcome Here. We proudly serve immigrants, refugees, and all who live in King County.
In emailing her translation, Lisa Jaffee wrote, “What an honor to translate such an important statement. Thank you – I’m so proud to work for (and live in) King County!”
When we post this sign, we can all be proud that our County, and everyone who works on its behalf, are ready to protect the safety, dignity and equality of all who live here.
Download the All are Welcome sign here. The sign prints best in color in the 11” X 17” size. Please post the sign in highly visible areas, especially in locations with direct services to the public.