The sound of a siren, the race of an ambulance down Jackson. A common enough sound and sight in the International District. For decades, Donnie Chin would be at the end of each emergency call, attending to a sick grandma or overdose victim. It did not matter who, but Donnie was usually the first to that call.
The khaki cladded figure with radios and other public safety paraphernalia strutting from call to call was a common sight in our community. If you worked in the ID for a couple of years, you might be exposed to his gruff exterior, an aloof smirk, a grumble of a few words. But once you got to know Donnie, you learned that he was much more than the community public safety officer, the emergency responder, the founder of the ID Emergency Center.
He was the “son” that would visit a sick grandma living in one of the neighborhood’s decrepit buildings making sure she had enough to eat. He was the “older brother” that would pluck kids running in the streets and give them purpose and a sense of direction. He was a friend that would walk you to your car, when the streets turned dark and unsafe. He was the eyes and ears, the running legs and helping hands, the heart of the International District.