2014 Okamoto Award Recipients Named

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SAN FRANCISCO — The 2014 Takeo Okamoto Community Leadership Award and Kay Okamoto Community Volunteer Award Committee and the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California announce the winners of this year’s awards.

Hiroshi Shimizu and Kinu Iwamoto

Hiroshi Shimizu and Kinu Iwamoto

The Takeo Okamoto Community Leadership Award will go to Hiroshi Shimizu of San Francisco and the Kay Okamoto Community Volunteer Award will go to Kinu Iwamoto of Petaluma.

The Takeo Okamoto award is presented to an individual who is modest and scholarly, and who has positively impacted his/her community through long-term dedication. Created by his children, this award honors the memory of Takeo Okamoto, who was renowned for his leadership and dedication to the community, exemplifying a strong yet unassuming manner.

Shimizu is an extraordinary volunteer who has been actively involved in the community for many years. He has been a member of the Tule Lake Pilgrimage Planning Committee since 1996 and has held leadership positions in the organization, including board chair. He has also been part of the Bay Area Day of Remembrance since 1998 and has served as chair of the organizing committee since 2010. Shimizu has also served on the boards of Kimochi Inc., San Francisco JACL, The Hokubei Mainichi and the Japanese American National Library.

Through his many years of community service, he has never sought public recognition and has always felt comfortable working behind the scenes, and to lead when needed. He gains the most satisfaction when the program that he is involved with is successful and the group gets full credit. Shimizu is a worthy recipient of the award as a strong leader with an unassuming manner.

The Kay Okamoto award recognizes an individual who recognizes Kay Okamoto’s spirit of volunteerism in the community. She was a long-time volunteer in San Francisco who believed in giving her time, money and energy for the benefit of senior citizens.

Iwamoto’s life typifies the word “volunteer” — one who freely offers to undertake any task. She had a long career with the Department of Social Services in San Francisco, and when she wasn’t working or raising her children, she was active in the community as co-founder and co-director of Enman no Tomo, a senior program that she has been leading for the past 30 years. She continues to volunteer her time to ENT, helping out almost daily with various activities. She is considered an ENT “lifetime member” who will always do whatever she can to assist the program.

Iwamoto also supports Enmanji Buddhist Temple in Sebastopol, where she has served on the church board for the past 30 years and has taken on any work, helping with rummage sales, bazaars, festivals, special memorial and temple services, and the church’s women’s association. Her tireless work for ENT and the temple exemplifies the spirit and legacy of Kay Okamoto and is a worthy recipient of this year’s award.

The two honorees will each receive a gift of $1,000. Half of that gift is awarded to the individual and the other half is donated to an organization of his/her choice.

The awards presentation will take place during the JCCCNC’s fundraiser, “Tabemasho — Matsuri,” on Saturday, Sept. 20, at 4 p.m. at the JCCCNC, 1840 Sutter St., San Francisco. For more information or to reserve tickets, call (415) 567-5505 or visit www.jcccnc.org.

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