The series “Celebrating Diversity” was photographed by Thomas Sanders on September 2, 2016, in El Cerrito, California. Seventeen seniors living in affordable housing were interviewed about their immigration to America or migration to California. Only one of the 17 people interviewed who live in HUD subsidized housing was born and raised in El Cerrito. From Taipei to Tokyo, Columbus to Valley Forge, each of these diverse individuals has a unique life story to tell on how they came to live at Eskaton.
Eighty-one year old Enoch grew up in Ghana. As a professional ballroom dance instructor, he attended many events where he was invited to sit at the table with the country's leaders. The Rumba was one of his favorite dances. Enoch moved to California in 1972 to study International Business at Menlo College in Atherton. He spent his career working in hospitality before retiring and moving to Eskaton Hazel Shirley Manor in 2015.
Sakinah, 71, graduated high school in Richmond, CA, before moving to Silicon Valley. She spent her career in manufacturing of tech hardware and retired from Hewlett Packard 15 years ago. She raised a son and now has three granddaughters in Tracy, CA. She is delighted to live close to her mother who has been a resident of Eskaton Hazel Shirley Manor for 15 years. "The location is excellent," says Sakinah. "We are close to stores and pharmacies. We can go just about anywhere.”
For the last 16 years Eskaton Hazel Shirley Manor has been home to the Wangs. Originally from Ningbo City, China, the couple moved to the U.S. to be close to their three children living in the Bay Area. Xiuchen worked at a battery company many years and was in manufacturing before retiring. She is now 82 years old and lives with her 84 year old husband Songzhang.
Tong, 88, studied commercial administration and graduated Shanghai University before making a career in banking. In 1990 his entire family immigrated to the US and he decided to come along. He and his wife raised 4 children, one son and three daughters in China. Now they have six grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.Tong enjoys his large family and the freedom America has to offer. He and his wife have lived at Eskaton Hazel Shirley Manor for the last 14 years. "It’s peaceful and safe here," said Tong.