On Sept. 27, the place to be was the Odyssey Restaurant in Granada Hills, as the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center honored Henry Yamamura with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Over 250 guests attended this luncheon in support of Henry, including family from Canada and Colorado, whom he hasn’t seen in over 35 years, and surprised him with their presence. Henry was overcome with emotion upon greeting them.
Tamyln Tomita was outstanding as the Mistress of Ceremonies, relating stories about Henry. The speakers–President Paul Jonokuchi, Board and Cabinet member Karl Nobuyuki, SFV Landscape Gardeners Association President Nob Tamai and SFV Hongwanji Temple President Amy Tani–recounted how Henry worked tirelessly and endlessly for the Center, the Gardeners and the Temple.
Rod Kuratomi represented the Sakamoto family, (Henry’s second family here) and shared what Henry meant to them. It was an enjoyable time of honoring Henry for his commitment, dedication and love for our Center. Domo Arigato, Henry, and thank you to Katie for letting Henry be Henry.
Here are some of the things Henry has done for the CC:
Keeper of the keys – Henry had the keys to everything at the CC.
Every meeting he would serve donuts and coffee to all who attended and when there was a scheduled CC clean-up he would provide Egg McMuffins for the volunteers.
When we had the Craft Fair, he would serve drinks and pastries to all the vendors while they were setting up their booths for the day. After any function held at the CC, he was there to set-up and clean-up.
Property Manager – for years he would open and check the CC for the day and then come back every night to walk the grounds to ensure and maintain the security of the CC.
Membership Chairman – Since he first became active at the CC he would handle the membership duties.
Grounds Keeper – He kept the grounds looking great. He would also clean and organize the storage rooms and containers, gym, meeting rooms and Nikkei Pioneer Building.
CC News – He was in charge of advertising, from soliciting the ads to billing and collecting payments. He also folded the newsletter and was in charge of having it collated for mailing (he was able to retire from this when we purchased the Canon printer three years ago).
Hot Meal Program – He set up the tables and chairs for the Senior Luncheons since it started when Tom Doi was Director of Human Services and luncheons were in the gym. He would put the tables and chairs away and throw out the trash.
Avid fundraiser – He would always sell raffle tickets for the different organizations and the CC; sell bentos for the Buddhist Temple; and solicit donations for all the fundraisers.
Henry’s Sports Fan – He would donate proceeds from his Sports Fan pool to the Recognition Tree on the Pioneer Building wall and of late to the Super Bingo Fundraiser.