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LTSCene - Feburary 2016

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February 2016

Yasuko Sakamoto Announces Retirement

“Over the past 36 years, Yasuko has set the standard for commitment to clients, supervised and trained a cadre of social service staff and dozens of interns and volunteers. Yasuko was also responsible for developing many innovative programs and approaches to assisting those in need,” Executive Director Dean Matsubayashi said. “The impact of her contributions cannot be overstated and will be sorely missed.”
A native of Fukushima and a graduate of the School of Social Work at UCLA, Yasuko became a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) in 1988 to provide counseling and psychotherapy to clients in Little Tokyo and the broader Japanese American community throughout Southern California. Under her leadership, LTSC's social service department grew to a staff of 20 social workers — all of them bilingual or trilingual, mostly in Japanese and English, but also in Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish and more — who provide a variety of services to 13,000 clients per year. Among the many essential services and innovative programs Sakamoto developed are the Nikkei Family Counseling Program, Tomodachi “Friendly Visitor” Program for homebound seniors, Caregiver Support Groups, and Kosumosu Transitional Shelter for survivors of domestic violence.
The full Rafu Shimpo article about Yasuko's retirement is available to read here. A retirement luncheon to benefit LTSC's senior programs is being planned for Saturday, May 7, at Los Verdes Golf Course in Rancho Palos Verdes. Additional details forthcoming.


By Stephanie Chen

My time at Little Tokyo Service Center has been great since day one. In my past jobs, I was in corporate banking and I am now in a different world working with a different nonprofit. Here at LTSC, I can see the results of my work immediately, as workshops are presented. I also had the opportunity to see how the corporate and nonprofit worlds can work together through my participation in the CRA Resource Exchange, a group of local organizations, financial institutions and foundations that meet on a frequent basis to discuss and exchange information regarding the community development needs of low- and moderate-income areas of Southern California. It was very informative to see the great work that other nonprofits in our area were doing, and it was gratifying to generate interest in LTSC's program. 

Over the past three months, we have helped more than 40 residents through our workshops and one-on-one counseling. We have also surveyed residents to learn more about the interests and demographics of our clients. None of this would have been possible without multiple volunteers. I am excited to come to work every day to do real work with real-life results.  

New Stuff for Afterschool!

"Oh my god this is so cool! It's so new!" shouts Jayden upon seeing a new soccer ball in the classroom. "I want to go play now." 

For years, our After-School program has been operating on a shoe string budget with second-run sporting equipment for the kids at our affordable housing units. While their parents are still at work, our program fills a critical need during the hours of 3 to 6 p.m. for kids to get tutoring and playtime in an environment that is safe and trusted. 

"I am so glad that these kids have a safe and healthy place to just be kids," says Tom Sogi, Director of our Tenant Services program. "Their parents are already dealing with so much. I want to see each of them thrive."

Our deepest thanks to the numerous supporters who gave to our After-School program's GivingTuesday fund drive from December to January. Your support helped us purchase new sports equipment, a cabinet for storage and chairs for our classrooms. 


Grant Spotlight:

Edison International's
Senior Safety Program

Little Tokyo Service Center received a grant from Edison International to support its Senior Safety Program. Edison International is committed to helping families and the community be prepared for natural and human-caused disasters.
This grant will support LTSC's Senior Safety Program that helps seniors stay safe both at home and when walking. Through our multilingual workshops, seniors learn what to do in an emergency at home including natural disasters, fires and utility issues. Many of our seniors do not speak English and do not have access to this information through the normal channels. Seniors also face safety issues while walking so the program provides pedestrian safety workshops that discuss crosswalk procedures, vehicular traffic issues, bicyclists and broken sidewalks. Little Tokyo is a pedestrian friendly neighborhood and LTSC is working to keep it that way for seniors, residents and visitors. 
LTSC would like to thank Edison International for its support of our program to increase safety in our neighborhood.

Budokan Update

Last August, it was reported that fundraising for Budokan of Los Angeles, a multi-purpose recreational facility to be built in Little Tokyo, had reached the 80% mark of a $23.5 million goal. 
In the six months since then, this project received an additional $1.1 million from foundations and major donors. "We are closer than ever to breaking ground, but there is an urgency to reach our fundraising goal as soon as possible. Construction costs for materials and labor have been rising so we have to do all we can to stay ahead of the curve," said Mike Murase, the director of the campaign. 
A grassroots committee has been formed to broaden our efforts and to reach out to players and leagues, including basketball, volleyball and martial arts. "We're counting on the community to become volunteers and contributors to Budokan, which will be a hallmark project for future generations," said Kim Kawasaki, Community Gifts Manager. "I invite everyone to contact me directly at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to get involved or to get information."
"We are very pleased that Toyota donated a Highlander Hybrid as a raffle prize. We will soon be launching a major outreach and ticket-selling effort," said Little Tokyo Service Center Executive Director Dean Matsubayashi. Additional news to come! 

Upcoming Events:

February 19 - South Bay Open House, RSVP here
April 30 - BoLA Dance - Purchase Tickets Here
May 7 - Yasuko Sakamoto's Retirement Luncheon
September 10 - Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program (APISBP) Expo, more info here 
October 15 - Asians for Miracle Marrow Match (A3M) Starnight 25th Anniversary Dinner

Green Tip Of The Month

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Recycling five plastic bottles will save enough energy to run a laptop computer for 10.4 hours.
Go to http://www.epa.gov/recycle to learn more.

Donor Shout Out!

January Donors

Thank you for your support!
Akemi Arakaki
Dennis Arguelles
Marcia Avent
Dean Hiraga
Takahiro Ide
Big Island Candies
Dr. Kenji Irie
Paul H. Iwahashi
Pauline & Dick Kaku
Gary Kanemoto
Mizue Katayama
Mark Kawauchi
Dawn & Alan Kita
Jennifer & Craig Kotani
Eric Kurimura
Kathy & Mark Masaoka
Teresa & Robert Matsushima
Gary Mikuni
The Estate of Harry Mitsuuchi
Masaharu Motoyama
Trisha Murakawa & Warren Wong
Daryl Narimatsu
Yvonne & Alan Nishio
Miguel Nunez
Hit Ohara
Dean Okamura
Jung Hee Park
Sheryl & Motohiro Shimizu
Gayle Sonne
Diane Tan
Keith Umemoto
Emily & Dan Weaver
Sandra & Ken Yamashiro
Nora & Norman Yamauchi
In Memory of Henry C. Itow
Setsuko Itow
In Memory of Eiko Mitoma
Jennifer Ayran
Jean & Bill Fiske
Iris Yuan
In Memory of Chor Chai Tan
Marie Tan
#GivingTuesday Donations
Misako Miyagawa
Budokan of Los Angeles Donations
Akemi Arakaki
Julian Ely
Jeff & Namy Folick
Masami & Shinko Hanabusa
Grace S. Hiura
Janet Hasegawa & Cliff Chu
Scott Ito & Nan Lee
Kimberly Kawasaki
Mike Murase & June Hibino
JFAK Architects
Patricia Nagano
Erich Nakano & Sandra Viera
Arlene Shinohara
Southern California Naginata Foundation
Edwin Takahashi
Norito & Takaye Takamoto
James Toma
Ruth & Bill Watanabe
In-kind Donations
GreyBox, LLC
Lily & John Lew
Colleen Seto-Gee & Douglas Gee
April Yamamoto
Vehicle Donations
Shieko & Donald Aiso
Alison Booth
Corrine Tokunaga


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