By J.K. YAMAMOTO
Rafu Staff Writer
A benefit dance held May 28 at the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center in West Covina raised more than $30,000 for earthquake/tsunami victims in Japan.
The event was organized by a group called Sanseis Support. Local dance band Kokoro donated its services and ESGVJCC waived fees for the use of its facilities. More than 360 people attended, and checks were also received from those who were unable to attend. All proceeds go to the U.S.-Japan Council Earthquake Relief Fund.
Noting that 31 tables were sold in just three weeks, organizer Paul Isozaki said, “This Sansei group opened their hearts for this cause.”
He credited Carol Tanita, manager of Rafu Bussan in Little Tokyo, for coming up with the name Sanseis Support. Tanita said that Isozaki came up with the idea for the fundraiser.
“We have worked together in the past to raise funds for various causes, but none has come so close to our hearts as this,” Tanita said. “There is an indescribable grief and feeling of loss as we watch daily how Japan is trying to recover from all of this. These feelings are shared by many of us, as we are being contacted by people we don’t even know, people who care, and are trying to reach out.
“As Sanseis, we are reaching out to Japan through this dance benefit to show them that we care, and want to help in whatever way possible. Through an outpouring of so many who are willing to help and give, we have sold out the capacity of the facility, and still have people wanting to give.
“I am finding that this disaster has connected many of us Nisei, Sansei and Yonsei back to our Japanese roots, wanting to find out more about our motherland. We believe that just as Japan rose out of the ashes from Hiroshima, it will rise again even stronger, and with dignity and an inner strength that all of us on the mainland will all learn from.”
The food, wine and table favors were donated, the bar raised $1,000, and the West Covina Higashi Honganji Senior YBA sold food to help Buddhist temples damaged in the quake/tsunami zone. The favors included uchiwa (round fans) inscribed with “Ai Love Japan” and the kanji for “ai” (love).
Kokoro, whose name means “heart” or “soul,” played ’60s and ’70s hits. It features members of bands from that era: drummer Steve Kikuchi (Soul Spectrum/Heavy Nation), keyboardist Wayne Horino (Wheels of Fire, Jefferson Bowl, Soul Reflections), bassist Glenn Nishida (Flashback, Small Fry, We Five), guitarist Michael Chung, and keyboardist/guitarist Wayne Nagao (Younger Sounds, A Long Time Coming, Windfield Summit). The lead vocalists are Lauren Kinkade, a professional singer and 2001 Nisei Week Queen, and Steven Santiago, formerly of Carry On.