Asian-Pacific Islander Affinity Group creating meaningful connections with communities during COVID-19 

Pictured: The API group recently held an online cooking class on how to make adobo.

At King County, having a community to connect with is crucial, even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic. With May being Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s important for employees to stay connected, and the County’s Employee Resource Groups, or Affinity Groups, provide a unique opportunity for employees to support one another.

The Asian Pacific Islander (API) Affinity Group’s vision is to be “committed to our community to thrive and celebrate our diverse cultures.” With one of their mission statements being “educate non-API communities by promoting and advancing equity and social justice change at the individual, organizational, and community levels,” they started virtual check-ins to connect and provide support to one another during this time, through in-person meetings twice a month.

Pictured: Julia Yen

With so many members participating, Julia Yen, a member of the API Affinity Group and Program Coordinator for Public Health’s Best Start for Kids Program, decided to keep the momentum going by hosting virtual luncheons and “quarantones,” which are fitness activities surrounding yoga or mental health.

“I created virtual luncheons and ‘quarantones’ because people need to have spaces outside of work to connect, share their thoughts, engage in activities, or just have someone to talk to” Julia said.

The group has also organized activities like sharing favorite movies, offering introductory yoga sessions guided by a professional, or talking about what participants are eating for lunch and how they prepared it. Julia likes to collaborate with members on different session ideas, to help people feel relaxed instead of anxious during this time.

“You can do these things, feel empowered, and help those around you,” Julia said.

The Asian Pacific Islander Affinity Group hosts these virtual sessions monthly, availability considered, so many people can attend. The virtual sessions are a space for individuals to connect, engage in activities, learn about the API community, and support one another. Anyone is welcomed and if you are interested in joining the Asian Pacific Islander Affinity Group, email Sung Cho, Co-chair of the group.

For information about the Affinity Groups, including the policy, visit the Equity and Social Justice webpage, download this flyer, or watch this video.