Nakayoshi members suited up last Saturday night to volunteer at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of California's annual fundraiser at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in Union Square in San Francisco. The event, titled "Salute to a Vision," commemmorated the 35th anniversary of the community center in Japantown, and featured a roast/toast to the 20 years of service and work the center's Executive Director, Paul Osaki, has given to the JCCCNC and the community.
The event was attended by hundreds of members of the community as well as several very prominent figures, including Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Congressman Mike Honda, CA State Assemblymember Warren Furutani, San Francisco Consul General of Japan Yasumasa Nagamine, TV broadcasters Wendy Tokuda and Jan Yanehiro, civil rights attorney Dale Minami, and everyone's favorite Olympic Gold Medalist and celebrity dancing champion, Kristi Yamaguchi!
Nakayoshi volunteers teamed up with other volunteers from the Northern California Cherry Blossom Queen Program, Asian Americans for Community Outreach and the UC Berkeley Nikkei Student Union to help raise $5,760 in the JCCCNC's sweepstakes fundraiser, with a total of $22,760 being raised from the sweepstakes ticket sales alone. The JCCCNC also raised additional funds with their silent auction as well as the live auction, with some of the bidding going for over $10,000 for an item! Crazy!
The roasting of Paul Osaki was pretty funny, if not slightly awkward, with embarrassing stories and good-humored jabs being thrown out to the audience. Not to be outdone, Paul fired back when it was his turn to speak, including some jokes at the expense of the old Nisei and his own mother. The night was definitely filled with a lot of laughter, close ties and good memories. I know I'm not alone when I say this, but looking at how much the JCCCNC and its staff has done for the community and the role it has played in so many lives, you can't help but feel appreciative for being able to take part in an event like this. On a personal level, the JCCCNC has always been one of the most welcoming community spaces in the JA community I've been to, and has provided me with countless opportunities to connect with Japantown and all the people who make it the special place that it is. As was mentioned during the night's program, the Center really has become the heart of Japantown.
You can be sure that Nakayoshi will be doing more with the JCCCNC in the future. Before we forget, a big thanks to Ken Maeshiro and Ali Kagawa of the JCCCNC staff for coordinating volunteers for the event! The next Nakayoshi event will be another volunteer service event this Saturday, September 20th from 9am to 1pm to help clean up the National AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park with the San Francisco chapter of the JACL. Hope we see you there!