PACOIMA — Emiko Sekine will serve up her famous oishii curry — a favorite dish she made at her Northridge café E&E — during a fundraiser on Sunday, Oct. 14, in memory of her son.
The event will raise funds for scholarships to help others pursue a career as a paramedic, a job that he loved.
Mitch Sekine, 28, served five years in the emergency medical services, first as an emergency medical technician and then a paramedic. He was killed in a traffic collision on his way to his paramedic shift in 2007.
Led by his mom, his family and friends established the Mitch Sekine Memorial Scholarship Fund in 2010. With each new class, a selected student from his alma mater, the UCLA Paramedic Education Program, receives $2,000 in funding to help with tuition. Four scholarship recipients have now graduated and work as paramedics.
A dynamo, Mrs. Sekine raised her two sons as a single mom. With her sister, Etsuko, she opened E&E Café, using their first initials for the name. It quickly became a local favorite, especially the curries. The restaurant closed after 14 years in business — the year her son died.
Mrs. Sekine says that as a full-time working mother, cooking was a special part of her relationship and bonding with her sons. When she cooks today, she remembers her younger son Mitch and the smiles and compliments he used to give her for those home-cooked meals. A cookbook of Mitch’s favorite recipes will be available for sale at the fundraiser as well.
She says that compiling the cookbook and working with the scholarship fund helped her to create a new beginning and that she’s started to heal. She also takes comfort that Mitch will live on in the hearts and minds of the patients and families that the scholarship touches.
Brenda Robinson, 27, is the most recent scholarship recipient. She just graduated as a paramedic and will attend the fundraising event along with other recipients. She’s grateful to the Sekine family for helping her achieve her dream of being able to help others in the community.
She tells of a recent paramedic run as an intern where she held the hand of a man who suffered from a gunshot wound as an innocent bystander. As they rushed to the hospital in the ambulance, she told him to hold on and that he would be okay. A few weeks later, he and his family came to the fire station to thank her. Her kind words, he said, helped save his life.
The first scholarship recipient, Takashi Hamada, 30, will also attend the event with his mom. He says he had always wanted to work in the emergency medical services. His house burned down when he was in high school, and he said in that down moment, the firefighters were there for him and his mom, and that inspired him. He was later drawn to paramedic work.
The goal is to raise funds for six more scholarships, and Mrs. Sekine’s delicious cooking is the lynchpin at the fundraiser, which will be held from noon to 3 p.m. at the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center, 12953 Branford St., Pacoima. All proceeds from the event and cookbook sales will go to the scholarship fund. The Japanese curry meal and drink is $15, with other meal options for kids.
For more information about the event and scholarship fund, go to http://mitchliveson.com and https://www.cpc.mednet.ucla.edu/about/mitch_sekine.