Welcome New Investee: ECOSS!
During the 13 years that Connie Nguyen has worked in Bay Area nail salons, she's seen numerous friends and co-workers become ill. She, too, has come down with mysterious skin rashes and respiratory problems. A few years ago, experiencing shortness of breath, she went to the doctor.
"The X-ray technician asked me if I'd been smoking a long time," said Nguyen, 48. "It shocked me. I have never smoked in my life."
Connie’s story, excerpted here from the San Francisco Chronicle, is unfortunately far too common. Nail salon employees are exposed to toxic chemicals daily, and the accumulation of those chemicals can contribute to a host of health problems including chronic asthma, dermatitis and respiratory illnesses.
There are relatively simple ways to reduce exposure, but much of the information provided does not reach the people who need it most. That’s where SVP’s new Investee, the Environmental Coalition of South Seattle (ECOSS) comes in.
"Many salon workers are Vietnamese and have limited English speaking skills,” explains Laurie Foster of King County’s Local Hazardous Waste Management Program. “Partnering with ECOSS adds direct community contact, credibility and language resources. The results of their community outreach has seen a 60% increase in salons (300 + employees) using personal protective equipment and handling their chemicals in a safer manner.”
Since 1994, ECOSS has played a vital role in the fight for a cleaner, healthier, and economically thriving Puget Sound. They have worked with thousands of local businesses to save money and contribute to a healthier environment. They have educated thousands of families about water and energy conservation, recycling, “green” cleaning, and the dangers of common household cleaning products, and initiated healthy foods and community improvement projects.
With a multicultural team providing free and confidential services in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Amharic, and Tigrigna, ECOSS has become a trusted resource, and an invaluable partner for environmental and public health groups. Uniquely positioned, they facilitate partnerships among different, and often conflicting, segments of the community – residents, businesses, industry, and government.
This unique role is one of the reasons SVP’s Environment Grant Committee selected ECOSS as an Investee. They were impressed with the multicultural programs for communities that are often difficult to reach, which is particularly important as clean-up of Duwamish Superfund Site begins – affecting many South Seattle residents and businesses.
The Grant Committee also felt that SVP had an opportunity to play a role as ECOSS takes their work to the next level, and saw some key areas where SVP could learn from ECOSS.
“ECOSS demonstrated a high level of commitment to engage with SVP to increase organizational effectiveness at a strategically important time,” explains Grant Committee member, Dan Johnson.
“They are also in a critical position, providing solutions for underserved diverse populations in South King County on matters of health and environmental wellness," continues Dan. "Their relationships and reputation for cultural competency is an important attribute, and something SVP could learn and benefit from.”
We look forward to working with ECOSS, and echo the enthusiasm expressed by Executive Director, Kevin Burrell: “ECOSS has much to celebrate as it approaches its 20th year. The opportunity to partner with SVP to build and strengthen the organization as we look forward to the next 20 years is truly incredible!”
More About ECOSS
ECOSS encourages urban redevelopment and a healthy environment by providing education, resources and technical assistance to diverse businesses and communities in the Puget Sound region.
To achieve this mission, ECOSS utilizes outreach and education to promote behavior changes that reduce air and water pollution, clean up contaminated properties, diminish individual and community exposure to toxics, and enhance community environmental health, quality of life, and economic development. (See their video below.)
Thank You to Our Other Four Finalists!
This was one of the most difficult decisions the Environment Grant Committee has ever faced. After a rigorous six month process, there were five outstanding candidates and the committee could only select one. The votes were extraordinarily close, and we would like to recognize and celebrate our other four exceptional finalists:
Thank you for the vital work you do in our community!