KWA celebrates Korean Full Moon Festival with music, food

Performers at the Moon Festival
Performers at the KWA Moon Festival wind their way through spectators

The vibrant colors of Hanbok or traditional Korean dress swirled and flowed amongst the more conservative western garb at Korean Women’s Association (KWA) meal site on Sept. 7. Koreans celebrate Chusok or the Korean Full Moon Festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month of the Korean calendar.   The centuries old festival, which runs three days, celebrates the autumn harvest with thanks and gratitude for their ancestors.  For 2011, Chusok fell on Sept. 12 and was celebrated Sept. 11 through Sept 13.

Gongs and drums crashed and thrummed in a clamorous, heavy heartbeat as participants and spectators alike clapped, sang and shouted.   The musicians circled and danced amongst jests and laughter as spectators joined and then left the group in an unorchestrated, organic mass until finally the performers wound their way through the entire room and out the door.

Then the real celebration began.  Koreans enjoy Karaoke in a way it takes many in American a few drinks to achieve.  According to statistics collected in 2009, an average of 1.9 million South Koreans participate in Karaoke each day.  Celeste Lee said, “Koreans love to sing.”  Lee, Program Manager for Social Services at KWA, said that when she gets together with friends, they eat and talk for a while and then they sing.  At first, she admitted she was nervous but as with most things the more you practice, the better you become.  It’s obvious that the twenty or so participants in the Karaoke contest had practiced a great deal.  One participant scored 100 points on the game system that ranks singers on their pitch, timing and rhythm.  Most scored impressively in the high 80s and 90s.  Even to the uninitiated, they sounded impressive.

A short break in the singing occurred just long enough for everyone to enjoy a traditional Korean meal with baked mackerel, chap chae (a popular noodle dish), beef and white radish soup, crescent-shaped rice cakeS and squid seasoned with red peppers, vinegar and garlic.

Although, Chusok is celebrated only once a year, KWA serves traditional Asian foods every week at their two meal sites.  The meal site at 123 East 96th Street in Tacoma serves Korean meals on Wednesdays, international meals on Thursdays and Samoan meals on Fridays.  In addition, Vietnamese meals are served Mondays and Thursday at the Indochinese Cultural and Service Center at 1427 East 40th Street in Tacoma.  That location serves Cambodian meal on Tuesdays and Fridays.   Nearly 300 meals are served each week between the two meal sites.  The 96th Street location can be reached at (253) 535-4202.  The Indochinese site can be reached at (253) 473-5666.

KWA started in 1972 as a Korean women’s social club in Tacoma.  Over the years, KWA has changed from that social club to a social service agency to help Korean women acclimate into American culture and has gradually become an association that assisted the needs of Asian Pacific Islander immigrants and refugees.

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Elections are over for now but not the voting process

Julie Anderson talks to Enoch Robertson about updating his voter registration form at the Senior Citizen's Awareness Day event at Mt. Tahoma High School, Aug. 13.

What does it mean to be an American? For some perhaps it just means that you cheer the home team during the Olympics. But for many not born in this country, being an American is a dream they may risk everything including their life to pursue.

There are only two ways to become an American by law or by birth. If you are lucky enough to be born here you must do nothing to be American but if you were born elsewhere you must do many things including but not limited to taking an oath, taking a citizenship test and meeting certain residential and moral obligations.

So, why this citizenship lesson? Pierce County will celebrate “I am an American Day” on Sept. 17. Originally, this day was celebrated in May but in 1952 it was moved to Constitution Day to honor the signing of the United States Constitution, which occurred Sept. 17, 1787. Tacomans last celebrated “I am an American” Day in 1949. This year, a special naturalization ceremony for approximately 100 of Pierce County’s newest citizens will occur at Mt. Tahoma High School Auditorium from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Some individuals are choosing to renew their citizenship, similar to renewing their marriage vows, and they will be part of the day’s activities as well. If you would like more information on this event contact the Pierce County Auditor’s office at (253) 798-3189.

It’s not too much of a stretch to hope that those new citizens will take part in one of the greatest responsibilities of being an American, which is to vote. Senior citizens are the most reliable group of U.S. voters so it may have seemed counterintuitive to find Pierce County Auditor, Julie Anderson at the Senior Citizen Awareness Day celebration in August. But as Anderson said, she wasn’t at the event to promote voting to seniors, she was explaining to them why they needed to update their signatures. Illness, age and medications are just some of the reasons signatures change over time. Election personnel are required by Washington state law to verify signatures on the return envelope that contains the security envelope and absentee ballot.

The law also requires that personnel assigned to verify signatures must receive training on statewide standards. This training allows staff to recognize forged signatures, for example the difference in shaky handwriting caused by true tremors caused by age or disease versus those by someone forging a signature. Some variation may exist between signatures on the return envelope and the signature in the registration file; however if your signature has changed and you want your vote or your signature on a petition to not be called into question, consider updating your registration file.

You can obtain a Signature Update Form by visiting the Pierce county elections office at 2401 S 35th St, Room 200 in Tacoma or by registering online at For additional information, call the Washington State Elections Office at 1-800-448-4881 or the Pierce County Elections Center at (253) 798-7430.

The Citizenship Oath

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.



Originally, NASA intended to call its first Space Shuttle the “Constitution” and dedicate it on Constitution Day. A write-in campaign by Star Trek fans to then President Gerald Ford asked that it be named after the Starship Enterprise. Ford, who had served during World War II with the “USS Enterprise” claimed he too was partial to the name. The shuttle was dedicated on Constitution Day 1976.


A tour group at the Chehalis Railroad on July 10 L-R: David and DArlene Werner; Lee an Carl Vest; Shannon Walker, Audrey Stacy; Sharon and Dick Wolfe

Summer is such a wonderful time to play. We can take time out to enjoy a beach, ride a steam train, wander through the mountains or cruise on the lake.  We definitely live in God’s Country here in the Pacific Northwest.  There is so much variety in what we can do.

The Cannon Beach trip may not have had the most perfect weather, there is always that drizzle of the ocean, but we had a perfect setting.  We rented two houses, side by side, just off the boardwalk in Seaside.  One night we had a barbecue in our yard and the next we enjoyed the Elks as a guest of one of our group.  The Sand Castle competition was extremely interesting.  We walked back and forth down a long line of competitors watching the progress as castles and creatures developed image and personality.  It is absolutely amazing how these teams of artists work and build.  Teams were composed of “little ones” with their buckets and shovels to the professionals with scoops and trowels.  Only the showers of the day forced us off the beach and on our way to Tillicum for lunch and ice cream.

July also brought us a ride on the Chehalis Railroad, a 1917 steam train chugging through the countryside for 90 minutes; a drive through the mountains out of Darrington and into the Mount Baker foothills’ and a Klondike Show onboard the Queen of Seattle as she cruised around our spectacular lakes.  The Mystery Trip took us to the Key Peninsula with places like Lake Bay, Home and Key Center; the Dinner Date went to Ranch House BBQ for the “Best Rack in Town”.

August brings with it a trip around the Olympic Peninsula with overnights in Port Townsend and the ocean beach.  We will explore Forks and see if we can find a “vampire” and learn what our grandchildren see in all the “Twilight” movies, which have been filmed in that tiny town.  There is still time for you to make plans for an Alaska trip in September or join us in October as we drive down the Oregon/California coastline.

A nice group has developed for the October cruise with Princess out of New York, along the coast on New England into Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and down the St. Lawrence River to Quebec City.  We have found roommates for several participants and perhaps could find one for you if you are still interested in joining us.

The future holds great promise for an Eastern Caribbean cruise or even a trip through the Panama Canal in April.  Plans are being made for Elizabeth to escort a group to “Music City” and we are looking into a Disney cruise to Alaska in the summer  (bring the grandchildren and family).  There is even some talk about getting out of the winter and heading for Hawaii for a week or so.

For further information as to what might be going on, or to make reservations contact Linda Finch at 253 927 8207 or get added to her email list at

Community Connections ADRC Team Member (left to right) Eunice Forest, Paul Calta, Matt Santelli, David Bradt, Barbara Bauml and Randy Ip.

The Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) team at Pierce County Community Connections has something to celebrate. All six ADRC case managers received recognition as Certified Information and Referral Specialists in Aging (CIRS-A).

Barbara Bauml, David Bradt, Eunice Forest, Randy Ip, Matt Santelli and supervisor Paul Calta successfully passed the CIRS-A exam. The test measures abilities in the field of Information, Referral and Assistance (I&R/A). It covers a variety of competencies to gauge the knowledge, skills, attitudes and work-related behaviors needed by those working in I&R/A.

“Congratulations to our case managers for receiving the CIRS-A certification,” said Helen Howell, Director of Pierce County Community Connections. “Their commitment to providing high quality services to our clients is very clear to those of us here at Community Connections. This certification acknowledges the competence of each team member and provides a wonderful stamp of approval to the ADRC.”

A service of Pierce County Community Connections, the ADRC provides free assistance to older adults, individuals with disabilities, family members, caregivers, friends, neighbors and professionals. The center offers information, referral and assistance to people seeking to access public and private pay programs and services to help residents remain independent and safe in their own homes for as long as they are able.

CIRS-A certification signifies expertise on issues relating to older adults.  The certification is administered by the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems, a professional association for community Information and Referral (I&R) and I&R/A providers in the United States and Canada.


The ADRC is available by phone at (253) 798-4600 or (800) 562-0332; on the web at; and at the Community Connections office at 1305 Tacoma Avenue, Suite 104.