Reunion, Reflection, Celebration at Keiro 50th Anniversary Event

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From left: Emcee Rob Fukuzaki and kagami-wari participants Shawn Miyake, president and CEO of Keiro Senior HealthCare; Fujie Wade, president of the Keiro Retirement Home Residents' Council; Frank Kawana, chairman of the Board of Directors of Keiro Senior HealthCare; Keiro co-founder Kiyoshi Maruyama; Gary Kawaguchi, chairman of Keiro’s 50th Anniversary Committee. (Photo by Ryoko Nakamura/Rafu Shimpo)

PASADENA — Keiro Senior HealthCare held its 50th Anniversary celebration luncheon at the Pasadena Convention Center on Oct. 15.

The reunion-like atmosphere celebrated not only “all things Keiro” but the community whose values and culture Keiro embodies.

The Genki Living Expo, Keiro’s free gift to the community, was held concurrently at the convention center. It featured informative and delicious demonstrations, fun and entertaining activities, and over 80 exhibitors to nurture an active, healthy lifestyle.

Over 800 guests filled the ballroom, which was elegantly accented with purple and amber lighting, as the rhythmic sounds of Kishin Daiko ushered them in.

Master of ceremonies Rob Fukuzaki, weekday sports anchor of ABC7 Eyewitness News, greeted the guests and facilitated a panoramic photo shoot to commemorate this historic event.

Both of Fukuzaki’s grandmothers were Keiro residents at the same time. “I want to thank Keiro on behalf of my family … The staff is just amazing, and all of you, from the pioneers who started Keiro to … those who support Keiro today, you should be very, very proud,” he said.

Keiro board member Lisa Sugimoto. (Photo by Ryoko Nakamura/Rafu Shimpo)

Participating in the kagami-wari ceremony were Frank Kawana, Keiro board chairman, representing Keiro’s leadership; Kiyoshi Maruyama, representing the founders; President/CEO Shawn Miyake, representing the staff; Fujie Wade, president of the Keiro Retirement Home Residents’ Council, representing the residents; and Gary Kawaguchi, chairman of Keiro’s 50th Anniversary Committee, representing the volunteers. Kawana gave the toast in English and Japanese.

Keiro’s “Living Treasures” were introduced —  founders Maruyama, George Aratani, James Mitsumori, and Frank Omatsu, volunteers, residents, and staff members. Four founders who have passed away were also recognized: Edwin Hiroto (represented by son David), Gongoro Nakamura (represented by granddaughter Kitty Sankey), Joseph Shinoda, and Fred Wada (represented by wife Masako). Other special guests included the new consul general of Japan in Los Angeles, Jun Niimi, and representatives of Seattle Keiro.

Guests enjoyed a leisurely afternoon connecting and reconnecting with long-time friends and supporters from the “Keiro family.” Carrying out the theme of wellness and healthy living, the menu incorporated various colors, textures, and fresh vegetables in the first course (grilled lamb chops served with a side of arugula salad, parmesan cheese and capers) and entrée salad. A dessert carousel centerpiece featured a variety of assorted French pastries and included some “no sugar added” desserts.

Grammy-winning recording artist Daniel Ho performed. (Photo by Ryoko Nakamura/Rafu Shimpo)

In the afternoon, guests relaxed with a special performance by Daniel Ho, a six-time Grammy Award-winning producer, featured slack key guitarist, and artist in the “Best Hawaiian Music Album” category, whose grandmother-in-law was a Keiro resident.

During his third song, “Livin’ in Paradise,” choreographed video images of Keiro residents and supporters evoked fond memories and served as a reminder of what Keiro is all about – providing seniors with the best quality of life possible.

After a lively table game of Jan Ken Po against Fukuzaki, Lisa Sugimoto, a board member of Keiro Nursing Home and representative of the Sansei generation, spoke about the need to continue supporting Keiro in its next 50 years.

“Keiro is here, as all successful organizations, because it is meeting a need,” said Sugimoto, whose parents also support Keiro. “Its programs, services, and facilities are carefully and prudently managed. And now and into the future, for Keiro to continue its tradition of care, I ask you to join me by contributing to a legacy that serves us all.”

“Our legacy from the past 50 years may well be that we took care of our own,” said  Miyake in his closing remarks. “As we look ahead to our next 50 years and anticipate new programs and services which will engage us individually to be more involved with our own health management, we can rest assured that Keiro will be here for us as an important safety net of senior care.”

The drawing for a 2011 Honda Accord, donated by American Honda Motor Co. Inc., added to the excitement of the day as winner Gil Nishimura was present at the luncheon.

The Grateful Crane Ensemble, which traces its beginning to performances at Keiro, also performed a closing song, “Ue o Muite Arukou,” better known in the U.S. as “Sukiyaki.”

To commemorate 50 years of enhancing the quality of senior life in the Nikkei community, luncheon guests received a limited-edition publication, “50 Years, 50 Stories.” This full-color book highlights some of the people, events, culture, and values that have shaped Keiro into the vibrant community it is today.

The event generated over $760,000, and net proceeds will benefit Keiro’s endowment fund. The fund helps to ensure Keiro’s ability to continue meeting the ever-changing health care needs of seniors at Keiro Nursing Home, South Bay Keiro Nursing Home, Keiro Intermediate Care Facility, and Keiro Retirement Home. or in the community through The Institute for Healthy Aging at Keiro.

For information on upcoming events, visit www.keiro.org. To purchase a copy of “50 Years, 50 Stories,” call Keiro at (323) 980-7582.

Brief History of Keiro

1961: Eight community leaders establish Keiro Senior HealthCare, purchase the Japanese Hospital of Los Angeles in 1961.

1969: Keiro Nursing Home opens.

1974: Keiro purchases five acres of land from the Jewish Home for the Aging in Boyle Heights for a reported $1 million.

1975: Keiro Retirement Home opens.

1977: Keiro Intermediate Care Facility opens.

1982: Thanks to a fundraising drive for $1 million by residents of Gardena and South Bay, South Bay Keiro Nursing Home opens in Gardena.

1987: Whittier earthquake severely damages Keiro Retirement Home.

1989: Through the commitment of the founders and generous support from the U.S. and Japan, Keiro Retirement Home reopens.

1990s: Keiro establishes two community-based adult day care programs, one in Torrance and the other in Santa Ana. These programs ultimately prove financially unsustainable.

2006: Building on the previous success of its community education programs, including three “Caring for the Caregiver” conferences, Keiro launches The Institute for Healthy Aging at Keiro.

The Grateful Crane Ensemble performed "Ue o Muite Arukou." (Photo by Ryoko Nakamura/Rafu Shimpo)

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