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Christina Yutai Guo Named CACFP Inspire Community Award Finalist

April 7, 2022

Christina Yutai Guo Happy Life Adult Care

Christina Yutai Guo’s family immigrated from Taipei, Taiwan to Denver, Colorado in 1988. Her parents, who lived with her, were unable to speak English nor could they drive. As they aged, Guo became their caregiver. In 2015, she visited New York City, where she learned about adult daycare centers, and Guo became determined to establish one in Colorado that could serve the needs of Chinese seniors like her parents.

In 2016, founded Happy Living Adult Daycare. She serves healthy, nutritious meals with a "Chinese flavor." Guo constantly asks her participants for their input on the foods. For example, in Chinese culture, cow’s milk is not commonly used, so she provides non-dairy substitutions (soy milk) to meet the needs and tastes of her participants. Culturally relevant foods are important to her participants who light up when they see ingredients, such as bok choy, and flavors they are familiar with that remind them of home. Nutritious, culturally relevant meals contribute to the happiness and longevity of her participants.

Meals and nutrition during the pandemic

 

Guo continued to go above and beyond to serve her community even at the onset of the pandemic. Her commitment to provide the very best for her participants did not waver. She delivered meals, offered mental health and wellness support, and developed community partnerships.

When the daycare needed to close, Guo personally delivered food to participant homes and spent time with them. At times, she coordinated with local restaurants, and other times she cooked the meals herself with the aid of a staffer. Guo would often drop off multiple meals at once to help her seniors get through the week.

Culturally responsive crisis support

Even outside of CACFP operations, Guo remained in contact with the Chinese seniors who called her regularly to talk about their fears and anxieties. She gave each of her more than 50 participants individual attention and care. Using an app, Guo would provide support, connection and information to these Chinese immigrants and elders. Guo ensured these seniors experienced familiar comforts such as special holiday treats and birthday cakes. She offered rides to medical visits and to the pharmacy. In the midst of the shutdown, three Chinese elders passed away in the Denver community, and due to restrictions, Guo was one of the few people able to attend their services, which she did while also helping with funeral logistics.

During the winter months of the pandemic, Guo coordinated efforts with local organizations such as the Asian Bar Association to organize a winter drive for her seniors. In December 2020, they collected more than 400 gift bags, which included winter accessories such as hats and socks, as well as Asian snacks, Chinese medicines, herbal teas, Sudoku books and more. The drive was such a hit that it was executed again the following year.

Happy Living Adult Daycare was always meant to be a place Guo’s own parents would feel at home. When the pandemic struck, Guo elevated her efforts to provide culturally responsive care and connections to her seniors, treating all her residents the way any adult child would want their beloved elders to be cared for. Guo is named a finalist for the CACFP Inspire Community Award for her unparalleled care and attentiveness. Award winners will be named during the 2022 National Child Nutrition Conference.