Chef Yasushi Kurashima: the Joys of Sharing
These days the fieldhouse at Oppenheimer Park has a distinctly Japanese flavour thanks to retired chef Yasushi Kurashima who has been volunteering his time and talents for the past year or so. In addition to preparing sushi platters, he been teaching workshops, sharing his skills at making sushi and other Japanese foods with members of the Downtown Eastside community.
In sharing his love of Japanese food with those who call this part of the city home, Kurashima-san has found a new community and family, along with the sense of satisfaction that comes with helping those in need. It has been, he says, the best year of his life, citing the friendliness, heart-warming hospitality, and positive attitude shown to him by DTES community members and Oppenheimer Park staff. In a gesture of appreciation, he made a sizeable financial donation to the Carnegie Centre. As he said in a speech at the Park’s Christmas party, “I am very thankful to become a part of Oppenheimer Park family and I finally found the joy of living after retirement.”
Says Sandy MacKeigan, Community Programmer at Oppenheimer Park, “Yasushi is well-loved and -respected in our Oppenheimer Community. Even though our languages are very different, Yasushi mingles with others by always offering a great big smile and nodding his head. His eyes sparkle every time I see him. Oppenheimer Park is thankful for Yasushi’s presence and spirit.”
Kurashima-san plans to continue sharing his skills as a chef and his love for Japanese food and will be giving two demonstrations for the over 1,000 participants at the 2015 HomeGround event this February, one on sushi making and the other on fruit/vegetable.
At the Christmas party, Kurashima-san, concluded his speech with these heartfelt words: “I would like to share this word with other Oppenheimer Park volunteers: ‘the joy of being appreciated.’ I believe the joy produces our happiness and sharing the joy will help us overcome the difficulties. I believe this attitude will resolve any conflicts and will build peaceful community. This is what I call Oppenheimer Park spirit and what I learned through volunteering at the Park!”