SAVE THE DATE: 17th Annual Evening of Aloha Gala Dinner Sept. 8, 2018

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May 2017


President's Message

PresidentI am often asked whether I believe that the youth of today remember and appreciate what our WWII Nisei soldiers did for our community and our nation. Do they understand the great sacrifices that these men and their families made? Do the youth of today even care? When faced with these questions, I think of the countless young faces who have come through our "Defining Courage" Exhibit. I reflect on the numerous youth who submit wonderful essays, videos and poetry to our annual contest. I remember the young individuals whom I meet at our public programs. I am comforted by the thought that these young people have heard the WWII Nisei soldier story and have supported it in their own ways. At the same time, I admit that I wonder whether these young people will carry on the story. Will they, one day, invest of their time, energy, and resources to keep the legacy alive?

Well, I received an answer in a way that I was not expecting. A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from friends of mine, Tracey and Mark Doi. She invited me to a get-together at their home. She told me that their daughter and four friends, all seniors in high school, had raised some monies that they wanted to give to community-based organizations. Go For Broke National Education Center was one of the organizations they had selected to support. I thought, "What a nice gesture." I agreed to go and fully expected to accept a check for a $100 or so. My friends and I had done something similar when we were seniors in high school and had raised $105 for a local charity - (please, no wisecracks about what $105 was worth back when I was in high school!).

The get-together was a festive event. There were easily 40 people there and representatives from several sister Japanese American-based community organizations. After eating and socializing for a while, we were all called into a room for the formal program. Five young Asian American teenagers stood before us all and began to tell us their story. They had met through the Yonsei Basketball Program and had become fast friends. But, they also knew that there was more to life than basketball. They, like some Yonsei Basketball players before them, wanted to give back to the community. They took over the reins of a giving circle and called it Changing the Community.

Over the last three years, they raised $42,000 from fundraisers with family and friends, Sansei Legacy and matching grants by Asian American Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy and Toyota. When I heard that number, I nearly fell out of my chair. This was unbelievable! This was so awesome! This was so inspirational! It was also quite humbling as I immediately decided not to mention my $105 achievement!

Over the course of the next half hour, these five students talked about why this year they chose the groups that they did: Japanese American National Museum, Keiro, Kizuna, Little Tokyo Service Center, and Go For Broke National Education Center. Then, they put their money where their mouths were and gave out $24,000. We received a donation of $4,000 from these young people to support college interns. At least three of the five fundraisers had family that served in the 442nd RCT and wanted to make sure the story was preserved.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Jennifer Doi, Kristin Sakoda, Lauren Lum, Kendall Kikkawa and Derek Kurashima for what they have done. The financial donation is incredible and much appreciated. More important, your actions and perspective are inspirational. Thank you for what you have already done for the community, who you are, and the future that you will help to craft. I know that the veterans and supporters of Go For Broke National Education Center applaud you. Additionally, I am sure that the veterans who are no longer with us are smiling down upon you and saying, "Domo arigato!

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