BC–Japan Earthquake Relief Fund (BC-JERF)
Only a little more than three months have passed since the Tohoku Region of Japan was hit on March 11th by the triple disasters of a 9.0 earthquake, a massive tsunami and a nuclear reactor meltdown. While the horrific images of these disasters are still vivid in our minds, time has inevitably moved on. It is important, however, to remember and recognize the amazing miracle which took place not only within the Japanese Canadian community but within all communities throughout the Lower Mainland. People were motivated to do something to help. While there has been a lot of well-deserved recognition for Linda Ohama and her team of volunteers who organized and put on the hugely successful Ganbare Japan concert, there are a whole host of others who, under the BC–JERF umbrella, were able to help raise a combined total of more than half a million dollars for earthquake relief. Just a few of these individuals and their accomplishments are as follows:
• The Japan Love Donation Boxes organized primarily by the Japanese Student Network led by Asuka Endo and assisted by the Japan Canada Chamber of Commerce led by Naoto Horita: this group mobilized many dozens of Japanese young people and together with the many restaurants, organizations and businesses which accepted the donation boxes, were able to collect more than $126,000.00, largely in small bills and coins.
• The efforts of Kazumi Nozawa who cajoled and committed individuals and companies in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake to donate funds and goods which enabled, in a very short time, to have a fully functioning BC–JERFoffice with computers, a printer, extra telephone lines, and origami paper for paper cranes, etc.
• The BC–JERF Executive Committee chaired by Joji Kumagai and the BC–JERF office under Greg Masuda and Kozue Matsumoto and many unselfish volunteers who spent many long hours bringing some level of organization to the myriad groups and individuals who wanted to help.
• Tonari Gumi, its staff and volunteers, who put in time and effort well beyond what might be expected so that BC–JERF could get up and running and who provided the financial and organizational base for BC–JERF to happen.
• Nikkei Place, the Powell Street Festival Society, the JCCA, The Bulletin and John Endo Greenaway , the Japanese Language School & Japanese Hall, the churches and so many others within the Japanese Canadian community who stepped in at critical times to provide space, staff and volunteers so that key BC-JERF sanctioned activities could take place.
• The Kids for Japan T-shirt campaign organized primarily among local schools by the Neil Moody Family: they designed and printed their own t-shirts which collected more than $5,000.00.
• The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Society concert resulting in a contribution of more than $20,000 to the Japanese Red Cross.
• The BC–JERF T-shirt sales which came about because Frank Chen and his company printed and donated some 500 t-shirts which came to represent the BC-JERF movement, resulting in revenue of more than $6,000.00 for earthquake relief.
• The BC–JERF Silent Auction conceived and motivated by Yoriko Guillard and her many volunteer helpers and fellow artists earned more than $4,500.00.
• The Earthquake Relief Raffle organized by Judy Mukoda and her cheery team of orange t-shirt-clad Aeroplan workers and friends: organized and got companies to donate the prizes and then sold enough tickets to earn more than $30,000.00 for earthquake relief.
Large and small, there was an amazing outpouring of sacrifice and work by an incredible number of people who sought to “do something” to help the victims of the tragedies in Japan. The great risk of trying to recognize even just a few of those that helped is that there are so many others whose efforts are not included. May all those who gave of themselves to help the afflicted in Japan realize that they were part of an incredible miracle. In the aftermath of the Stanley Cup riots and the self-indulgence we see around us, it is good to know that there are so many who truly care.