What a wonderful way to end 2014! After managing to pull through a challenging year full of change, it was so extremely heartwarming last month to see our tiny new office overflowing with envelopes filled with JCCA membership renewals, donations and notes of appreciation. Special thanks to all our incredibly loyal members for continuing to support us today and for all the many years prior. Your kind words of encouragement and generous donations were especially uplifting as we enter the New Year!
After all the hard work during the past 12 months, it is important to review some highlights from this past year. Near the beginning of 2014, we welcomed the hiring of two enthusiastic and creative young Japanese women to The Bulletin / Geppo team to help us innovate and expand the Japanese portion of our publication. And they didn’t disappoint! The duo immediately impressed our long-time Editor John Endo Greenaway with their new style and dedication, and thus far, we have received only positive feedback from readers.
In addition to the new staff, we bulked up on Board Members by adding five new Directors, including the amazingly hard-working community activist Kathy Shimizu and past JCCA Human Rights Committee (HRC) Chair Judy Hanazawa. Both Kathy and Judy have been instrumental in executing numerous initiatives this year. As an experienced member of the HRC, I felt that Judy was especially helpful in bridging the gap between the HRC and our Board. In May, we hosted a Community Forum and collected all kinds of interesting and informative feedback from representatives of various JC organizations as well as concerned individuals. Some of the feedback is being implemented each day.
In June, Lorene Oikawa was selected to be the new HRC Chair and as such, she replaced Judy as the HRC representative on the Board. Lorene has also done an exemplary job of keeping the lines of communication open between the Committee and Board. She also made an immediate impact to improving the JCCA’s social media presence and it is likely you’ve seen some of her many posts on our Facebook page or on #geppogram. Also in June, we co-hosted the Second Annual Joint Golf Tournament Fundraiser with Tonari Gumi, and in August, we were amazed at the success of our well-known and -loved Wild Salmon BBQ at the 38th Annual Powell St Festival.
In September, we hosted the NAJC Annual General Meeting in Vancouver and concurrently anchored the organization for the NAJC’s JC Young Leaders Conference, which saw record-breaking attendance and participation from across the country. It was so encouraging to see the next generation of JCs coming forth and expressing such an interest in their roots and history. During the AGM, it was also my pleasure to present veteran JCCA Director April Shimizu with the NAJC Merit Award for her 12 years of dedicated service on our Board. April and fellow Director May Hamanishi, are often the key organizers for many of the JCCA’s events. There’s no chance we could run our Salmon BBQ at the Powell St. Festival without them.
By October, we were all pretty exhausted and yet the Directors and our Editor, John, managed to completely move out decades of accumulated files, equipment, Bulletin issues, books, and artifacts from our large office at Nikkei Place. Most of the items with historic relevance were archived in the Nikkei National Museum, and the rest was crammed into our new smaller office at Nikkei Place. In November, we hosted a luncheon to thank our faithful volunteers for their help with all our various events throughout the year and for their amazing help in mailing out monthly issues of The Bulletin.
Throughout much of 2014, we endeavoured to reduce our overhead expenses whenever possible. As a result, this year the JCCA is a much leaner organization, and in the New Year, we plan to continue the long-term process of creating a more sustainable and engaged organization that will be better able to help tackle the issues that are affecting the lives of Japanese Canadians in our community.
With some of the hard work behind us, we will soon face the next challenge, which is to recruit new members for our Board of Directors. On March 14, 2015 at 2:00pm, the JCCA will hold its Annual General Meeting at the Nikkei Centre, and at that time we will be electing a new slate of Directors. I highly encourage you to step forward and join us! It is a great opportunity to learn more about our JC history, to fight for human rights, and to connecting with amazing, interesting people.
If you would like to get involved with the JCCA in any capacity, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604.777.5222, or join us at an upcoming event. You can meet board members at our JCCA First Annual Community Bowl-a-Thon Fundraiser which takes place on February 22nd. Check out the announcement in this issue of The Bulletin / Geppo. If you have any questions about how you can support the JCCA please email or call us. Thank you!