Tag Archives: volunteering

Meet Stacey Tamura, Another Amazing Keiro Volunteer!

Stacey Tamura, South Bay Keiro Volunteer

Stacey Tamura, South Bay Keiro Volunteer

Volunteering is an important way for the next generation to get involved in caring for seniors! Below, Stacey Tamura shares her experience volunteering at South Bay Keiro Nursing Home.

I am a high school student and organize nursing home visits with high school students at my school. We have volunteered at South Bay Keiro Nursing Home a few times to participate in fun activities such as origami and bingo with the residents. All the activities have been enjoyable to do with the residents. Also, the staff were very welcoming and accommodating. After the activity, we talk with the residents and get to learn more about each other. They are always friendly and warm to us whenever we visit. I am glad to know that we may be making their day a little more fun.

Stacey is a junior at the California Academy of Mathematics and Science (CAMS), which is located in Carson, California. She participates in Biomed/HOSA Club, Key Club, Robotics, and National Honors Society with her school. During her free time, she enjoys cooking, baking desserts, and playing piano.  

The material presented on this site is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily represent the opinions of Keiro Senior HealthCare, The Institute for Healthy Aging at Keiro, or its contributors. Readers should consult appropriate health, legal, or financial professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.  Full disclaimer

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It's Obon Season!

Children's Performance at Nishi Obon, July 9-10

Volunteering at Obon

Being involved in community activities is a great way to socialize and stay genki! Karen Escano of Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple (one of Keiro’s Nikkei Senior Network member organizations) talks about her volunteer experience at this year’s obon carnival.  

On July 9 and 10, the members of the Los Angeles Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple held their annual Obon Carnival. It was the culmination of months of planning and preparation. To be a part of Nishi’s Obon celebration is something one has to experience to appreciate. While remembering our loved ones who have sadly passed away, side-by-side with friends and family, there is a sense of “oneness” as everyone works together. It has been reported that during our Obon carnival, there are at least 200 people hard at work.  Whether they are in a booth, the kitchen, directing cars in our parking lot, or making sure we have toilet paper in our bathrooms, the efforts are endless. Everyone simply wants to do what they can to make it easier and more enjoyable for others. The contributions of Nishi members are numerous, and whether it be in the form of the delicious osushi made by the Fujinkai women, whose members range in ages 50 to 90 years, to the sweet song and dance performed by the Nishi Development Center children, who are between the ages of 2 and 5, the sense of pride and selflessness are evident.

A Community Effort

This year, as in years past, we were fortunate to have thousands in attendance. Guests were able to enjoy a variety of food and drink items, (the boba and dango were amazing!), games, cultural exhibits and demonstrations as well as entertainment. This year, our guest MC was Mr. Rodney Kageyama. We were thrilled that he was able to join us in welcoming The San Fernando Hongwanji Buddhist Temple Choir, The Taiko Project, Kotobuki no Kai, LA Matsuri Daiko, and Matsutoyo Kai, to name a few, during our entertainment segment. Our objective in providing entertainment at our Obon carnival is two-fold; one, to provide a lighthearted atmosphere for our guests and two, to provide our hardworking members a slight distraction from their efforts. We are always humbled and very grateful to the talented performers who donate their time to be with us.

We hope that if you were able to join us this year that you had a memorable time, and if you were not, please plan to do so next year. The energy that our members put forth in celebration of Obon each year is truly amazing.

As a side note, when I was approached (begged) to write this article, my immediate response was “okay,” not knowing until hours later that it would require more brain power than I might actually have, and that I was probably not very qualified to do so.  However, having said that, I am glad that I was asked as it has given me an opportunity to reflect on the significance of Obon and the ability to express how meaningful it is to be a part of something so very special.

Karen is a member of the Board of Directors for Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple.  She has served as past president of both the Adult Buddhist Association (ABA) and the Dharma School Parents for the Temple. For the past four years she has served as co-chair of the Obon Entertainment Committee.

The material presented on this site is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily represent the opinions of Keiro Senior HealthCare, The Institute for Healthy Aging at Keiro, or its contributors. Readers should consult appropriate health, legal, or financial professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.  Full disclaimer

If you enjoyed this article, click the “like” button below!

Volunteering in the Earthquake-Tsunami Area in Japan…

A Day at the Shizugawa High School Evacuation Center in Minamisanriku
Part I

Staying involved and helping each other is an important part of staying genki! Below is the first part of an account by Darrell Miho who volunteered in the earthquake and tsunami-affected area of Minamisanriku, Japan.

Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan – It’s 4:50 in the morning and golden rays of sunshine are already streaming through the glass block windows at the Shizugawa High School Judo Dojo. The sound of rustling blankets can be heard coming from one corner while sounds of snoring emanate from all around. The sliding metal door opens and closes as early risers tend to their morning business.

There is no running water. Six portable toilets are lined up outside the dojo – three for women and three for men. A five gallon (20-liter) plastic jug with a spout and a plastic bowl serve as a temporary sink. Soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels and a wastebasket sit next to the jug of water. Cleanliness is of the utmost importance to prevent the spread of germs and diseases.

At 5:30 a.m., Jun Suzuki is standing outside the entrance of the dojo wearing a pair of burgundy sweat pants and a long-sleeved black t-shirt under his black surfboard aloha shirt. While he takes his morning smoke, two ladies walk by and they greet each other with a softly spoken “Ohayou gozaimasu.” It’s a friendly exchange between fellow evacuees.

The morning is brisk as a new day begins at one of the 41 evacuation centers set up in Minamisanriku after the March 11, magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan and nearly wiped out this small fishing port in the Miyagi Prefecture.

Suzuki is one of 105 residents at the Shizugawa High School Evacuation Center that sits on a hill above the town where his house once stood just over 12 weeks ago. Most of the residents here escaped with only the clothes on their back. Some, like Suzuki, are just lucky to be alive.

At 5:50 a.m., Suzuki walks across the soccer field and down two flights of stairs to the Tokubetsu Yogo Homu Jikein, a special nursing home for the elderly, where he and his parents fled after they saw the tsunami engulfing their hometown. Inside, he walks down a dark, debris littered hallway and leads us into the room where they were trapped by the tsunami floodwaters.

Over two months later, you can still see the brown waterline just below the ceiling indicating just how close they were to drowning. There was only a foot of air space left to breath. He reaches up towards a metal curtain rod and explains how he hoisted himself up to keep his head above the water. “I thought I was going to die,” he said. If the water kept rising for another few minutes, he and his parents probably would have joined the list of over 14,000 people confirmed dead or missing in the Miyagi Prefecture alone.

Suzuki’s story is just one of the many survival stories to be heard from evacuees who now live in 2559 shelters located throughout Japan. While their lives have all changed forever, the residents try to move forward and return back to as much of a normal life as one could possibly have under the circumstances.

The material presented on this site is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily represent the opinions of Keiro Senior HealthCare, The Institute for Healthy Aging at Keiro, or its contributors. Readers should consult appropriate health, legal, or financial professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.  Full disclaimer

Celebrating 50 Years of Service…

South Bay Keiro Nursing Home Volunteer Awardees

Oh, what a morning!  On Wednesday our Keiro staff had the pleasure of being surrounded by 250 of our wonderful volunteers at the annual Keiro Volunteer Appreciation Brunch.  Held at Almansor Court in Alhambra, the morning started out with a bit of rain, but blossomed into a beautiful event where volunteers were able to meet with old friends, eat lots of food and be recognized for their dedication and service to our community.

There was plenty of chatter throughout the room as volunteers were able ” to see how many volunteers there were [are] and to meet good friends!”  Many commented that the event was a “very friendly and warm gathering,” and that it was “very relaxing and a great time to enjoy with fellow volunteers, eating delicious food!”

One volunteer stated, “As we celebrate 50 years of service, the atmosphere was charged with much happiness and anticipation as the entire community anticipates another 50 years of not only service alone, but that there will always be Keiro into the future years.”

Keiro Senior HealthCare would not be what it is today without the tremendous support of the community and the countless hours so generously given by our volunteers.  We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts and look forward to the next 50 years!
We would love to have you join our Keiro Volunteer Family!  If you are interested, please contact Kimberly Hayashi at khayashi@keiro.org or at (323) 980-2352.

How Grandma Passed on a Legacy…

Kanako Kusano, Health Promotions Specialist The Institute for Healthy Aging at Keiro

Older Americans Month has been celebrated in May since 1963 to recognize older Americans’ contributions to our society. This year’s theme is, “Older Americans: Connecting the Community,” recognizing how older adults build our communities as well as preserve them for future generations.  It also acknowledges how many older Americans volunteer in their communities to help others.  I think this is particularly true at Keiro where many volunteers are in their late 60s to 70s. 

 Keiro has more than 800 registered volunteers, and many are older adults. They volunteer at Keiro facilities, walking with residents, helping with activities, and more. Some volunteers are out in the community promoting genki living by teaching classes and assisting at events. They are all connecting people in our community to others and to resources to help people approach aging with confidence.

While working closely with volunteers, I was inspired by their volunteerism and learned what it means to preserve our community.  We preserve our community by thanking our older adults for what they have done for us and our community and demonstrating such appreciation by volunteering and mentoring younger generations.

 This month, I’d like to particularly thank my grandma, who passed away last summer, for everything she has done for me – teaching me how to make osechi, supporting my education, and comforting me when I needed it. I would also like to pass these things on to younger members of my family.


The U.S. Administration on Aging is sponsoring two exciting activities in observance of Older Americans Month 2011, a video challenge and a video game tournament. We welcome and encourage the participation of seniors and community members across the country.


For more information about Older Americans Month, visit the U.S. Administration on Aging.

Exercise Your Heart…Volunteer!

Gayle Kikuta, South Bay Keiro Volunteer

To Celebrate Volunteer Week – Meet Gayle Kikuta, Keiro Volunteer and Family Member

I am proud to be a Keiro volunteer!  I love what I do and best of all, have lots of fun too!

I have been retired for over 10 years, have been blessed to have recovered from a brain aneurysm, and am supported by the best loving husband and congenial son. I have volunteered in my son’s schools, my church and community and have coached A Matter of Balance sessions for The Institute for Healthy Aging at Keiro (IHA). But the most rewarding and enjoyable times have been with my South Bay Keiro family and friends. It’s home away from home for me, my mom, my mother-in-law and extended family of residents, their families, and of course, the great staff.

Volunteering at South Bay
Keiro Nursing Home

To me, volunteering at Keiro means sharing my time and energy helping others whether it may be playing: balloon volleyball, BINGO, Black Jack, Hearts, Poker, Roulette, Rummy or UNO; leading Aloha Time; or taking time to just listen and/or chat with a resident or their family member. I look forward to each day and the rewards are abundant: the smiles, laughter, fun times, seeing residents learn new skills for games, seeing physical skills improve, getting a new resident to participate in activities or seeing a resistant resident peek-in and watch… and the “thank yous” from the residents are awesome!

Volunteering is part of genki living… anyone who has an hour or two to share with someone else, I encourage you to come and try it – observe, join in or help with a game, share your talents or visit with a resident. Come see how it can enrich your life.  Hope to see you soon!

– Gayle Kikuta