Serving as the master of ceremonies will be Mike Inouye, a South Bay native, who is the NBC Bay Area’s weekday morning traffic anchor and often performs as a professional improvisational comedian in the Bay Area. This year, the brunch will feature a special guest speaker, Liane Lissa Sato, who was on the USA National Volleyball Team that represented the USA at the 1988 and 1992 Summer Olympics. At the 1992 Olympics the USA National Volleyball Team won the bronze medal. She now teaches and coaches at Santa Monica High School, her high school alma mater. Entertainment will be provided by Yoko Fitzpatrick and the Sunshine Girls, senior dance group from the Sakura Kai Senior Center in El Cerrito.
The 2016 Senior Appreciation Brunch Honorees are:
Shizuko Ikeda is an honoree from Kimochi, Inc. Shizuko was born in Japan and came to the United States with her husband after WWII. Not able to speak English when she came, she was determined to learn English quickly and was very successful so that she could enroll in the California Beauty School and become a beautician. She opened her own shop and worked until she retired in 2004. At the beauty school, she met Shizue Mortensen, little realizing that their friendship and professional relationship would develop eventually to becoming the “Dynamic Volunteer Duo” at the Kimochi Home. Shizue Mortensen is also to be recognized this year. Shizuko is a caring, compassionate individual who has a wonderful upbeat attitude each day she helps. She is happy to do anything that was needed by Kimochi which includes translation help, senior escort, serving meals and going with seniors to their doctor appointments. Shizuko feels the most rewarding part of volunteering is the happiness she feels when helping others.
Betty Nobue Kano is an honoree from Sakura Kai Senior Center, El Cerrito. Betty was born in Sendai, Japan and came to the United States where she pursued her love of art and eventually received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts from San Francisco State College. She then attended the University of California, Berkeley, where she received a Masters of Arts and a Master of Fine Arts degree. She is a well known painter, especially in the Bay Area, having held several exhibitions of her paintings. She has worked as a Lecturer for the Fine Arts and Ethnic Studies Departments at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland and was a Lecturer for the Asian American Studies Department at San Francisco State University. Betty’s mother, Elsie Ogata, was a Sakura Kai member and this began Betty’s connection with Sakura Kai. She took her mother to the many activities at the Center and enjoyed the friendships she formed with many members of the Center. She is called “Mega Volunteer” by many at the Center because she is always lending a helping hand. For the past several years Betty has been a volunteer instructor for the Conversational Japanese class. Betty feels the most rewarding part of volunteerism is being part of a community. Her aunt, Ruby Hiramoto, also attends Sakura Kai and her grandmother attended the Center in the 1970’s. She thanks Sakura Kai Senior Center for the opportunity to be of service to a wonderful organization.
Michie Koga is an honoree from Pine United Methodist Church. She was born in San Francisco just after the end of WWII. She received a Bachelor of Science from San Francisco State University which was followed by Michie studying pottery in Japan for nine months. She worked for twenty years as the secretary for Pine United Methodist Church. Michie has had a long and active association with the church starting when she was a teenager. She has been very active with leadership roles in the church youth program. Her mentor was Reverend Lloyd Wake who encouraged her to become active with the community. In addition, Michie is the coordinator of all weddings and funeral/memorial services held at the church. She is also on the ABC Pine School Policy Board is invaluable with her bilingual skills. She volunteers with Kimochi, JCCCNC and Kokoro throughout the year. Michie feels the most rewarding part of her volunteer service is the opportunity to help others and to support and contribute to the community.
Joyce S. Morihiro is an honoree from Yu-Ai-Kai. She was born in San Jose and was interned at Heart Mountain, Wyoming, during WWII. She attended San Jose State University where she received a Physical Therapy Certificate. She worked as a physical therapist for many years at the VA facility in Livermore. Joyce became involved with Yu-Ai-Kai when her mother joined as a participant in the senior day program. Joyce enjoys arts and crafts and began volunteering annually making Christmas ornaments for the senior. Joyce is a quilter and is a member of the San Jose Buddhist Church Sangha Support Crafters and Quilters. She volunteers to make scarves and blankets that are taken to hospitals in the San Jose area. Santa Clara County Supervisor Liz Kniss and the Valley Medical Hospital have recognized the Crafters and Quilters for their contribution. Joyce also makes quilts for old tee shirts and donates them to be auctioned at Yu-Ai-Kai fundraisers. Joyce is a fantastic cook and is the main cook and organizer for Yu-Ai-Kai’s annual Crab Feed and also Yu-Ai-Kai’s annual Mochi Tsuki. Joyce is also a huge San Francisco Giants fan and annually goes to spring training in Scottsdale, Arizona. Joyce feels the most rewarding part of her volunteerism is the good feeling and sense of accomplishment when she sees people enjoying themselves and the happy smiles on the patients who receive the scarves and blankets.
Shizue Mortensen is an honoree from Kimochi. She was born in Tokyo, Japan, and came to the United States with her husband after WWII. Upon the urging of her husband, Shizue looked for a place she could learn a trade and found the California Beauty School where met Shizuko Ikeda. Their work and friendship eventually led them to become the “Dynamic Volunteer Duo” at Kimochi. Shizue started working part time and continued until her husband passed away. Shizuko persuaded Shizue to come to work at her shop in San Francisco where they worked together until they both retired in 2004. Shizue first heard about Kimochi from her customers. She remembers the first day at Kimochi was January 2, 2005 and her commitment to Kimochi was two days a week. She soon ended up as the all around help by answering the phone, serving snacks and lunch, and helping seniors on their doctor visits. She is caring, compassionate, and brings a wonderful upbeat attitude each day she is helping. Shizue also volunteers at St. Anthony’s Dining Room and has learned sign language to help those that are hearing impaired. She feels the most rewarding part of volunteering is the warm feeling she gets from helping others.
Wesley Kazuo Mukoyama is an honoree from Yu-Ai-Kai. Wesley was born in Chicago and has a Bachelor of Arts from Simpson College, Indiana and a Masters of Arts from University of Chicago in Social Services Administration. He has worked as a Psychiatric Social Worker for the Department of Veterans Affairs and was the Executive Director at Yu-Ai-Kai until his retirement in 2009. Wesley has been greatly instrumental in helping Yu-Ai-Kai develop the important services for seniors and their families in the San Jose area. He started the English and Japanese care giving groups and the aftercare group for those whose loved ones have passed away. He was instrumental in Yu-Ai-Kai building their facility and the Akiyama Wellness Center. Although Wesley is retired, he is always on the go. He is a licensed clinical social worker and goes out daily to counsel people in need. Since his retirement, he volunteers six days a week at the Santa Clara County Jail, counseling inmates on how to cope with anger and anxiety. He is also an advisor for the Social Services Department in handling individuals who are depressed and in need of clinical support. He feels the most rewarding part of volunteering his service is helping others and he is most proud of his involvement with the Yu-Ai-Kai facility. He credits his father for influencing him to pursue a life of service. Like his father who was a spokesperson for the Issei generation, Wesley has become a spokesperson for the seniors of this generation.
Misa Sakaguchi is an honoree from the San Mateo Japanese American Community Center. Misa was born in Mt Eden, California and was interned at Tule Lake. She worked as a secretary until her retirement. Misa is extremely generous with her time and supports many organizations housed in San Mateo. She first came to the SMJACC to attend a San Mateo Chapter Japanese American Citizen’s League board meeting was immediately elected to serve as its secretary. As she learned of other activities at the SMJACC, is became involved with their fundraising efforts, especially the Annual Holiday Faire and Bake Sale. She volunteered as a cashier, recording and balancing the books and collecting the receipts. Misa is also a volunteer for the San Mateo County History Museum and works on their Independence Day and Victorian Day events as well as their History Makers event honoring San Mateo County families and individuals. Misa feels the most rewarding part of her volunteer service is the opportunity to give back to the San Mateo community and meeting new people. She brings love, tolerance and peace to the people she meets and helps.
Sumi Suda is an honoree from Kokoro Assisted Living. Sumi was born in Los Angeles and graduated high school in Japan. She was interned at Gila River during WWII. After the war, she returned to California, married George Suda and worked as a dental assistant with her husband until their retirement. Sumi is presently living at Kokoro Assisted Living and is very involved in supporting the residents. She is presently the President of Kokoro’s Tenant Council. She provides leadership to the residents by holding monthly meetings to discuss resident concerns, making specific suggestions to improve the lives of the residents and communicates directly with the Kokoro Board of Directors on the wide range of resident issues. She feels it is very important that someone speaks out and advocates for things that are important to the seniors. Sumi feels the most rewarding part of her volunteerism is when improvements, big or small, are made to improve Kokoro. Life at Kokoro is being positively impacted by her leadership, compassion and knowledge of how to make Kokoro a safe and caring environment. most rewarding part of volunteering is the warm feeling she gets from helping others.