LACDMH is celebrating the first anniversary of the Tea Time program in Monterey Park, which serves predominantly Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) older adults and provides hot green tea, snacks and mental health support. The program began as a crisis center in the Langley Senior Center for a community pained by the 2023 Lunar New Year mass shooting in Monterey Park, which killed 11 people and injured nine others.

One year beyond the shooting, the program has served as a beacon of support to a community still lamenting those who were lost in Los Angeles County’s deadliest mass shooting. Twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Trung Du, a Community Health Worker, and Ryan Nam, an Intermediate Typist-Clerk, both from the East San Gabriel Mental Health Center in Covina, visit the senior center to connect with seniors and hand out whatever freebies they can assemble.

Between the COVID pandemic, the mass shooting in Monterey Park, and often living across the world from loved ones, many seniors in the AAPI community have found healing through speaking with the Tea Time duo. The program has grown increasingly more popular among the community. From February to December, the average attendance for each session grew from 50 to 180 people. Additionally, the program has referred more than 160 people for an intake appointment with DMH services.

By being present to meet with seniors and speaking in their languages – Du and Nam combined speak English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Vietnamese — they have made significant inroads in building community trust and spreading the importance of mental health. They look forward to continuing support for seniors and hope to see the department provide similar services for other communities and age ranges.