SAN FRANCISCO — The Okamoto Awards recognize exceptional individuals who have demonstrated deep concern and long-standing dedication to the Nikkei community. The Kay Okamoto Volunteer Award and the Takeo Okamoto Community Leadership Award will be presented at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC) Annual Event, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 24.
In 1988, the Okamoto family established the Kay Okamoto Volunteer Award to recognize individuals who exemplifies Mrs. Okamoto’s spirit of volunteerism in the Japanese American community. This year, two individuals were selected for the honor: Yo Hironaka of San Francisco and Shigeyuki Doi of Richmond.
Hironaka has worked tirelessly over several decades on behalf of the Japanese American community in a variety of capacities and organizations. She is a Sunday school teacher at Christ United Presbyterian Church, a 25-year board member of the JCCCNC, and a 20-year board member of the San Francisco JACL. She organizes the chapter’s annual health fair, Kenko no Hi, and the chapter’s annual Crab Feed, whose proceeds are donated to a worthy local cause. In San Francisco’s Japantown, she is a respected member and recognized face that people turn to for support whenever a community issue or event arises. Those who have worked with her marvel at her long-standing dedication and say she hasn’t slowed down one bit.
Doi, a veteran of the U.S. Army, served with the decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team. He spent his internment years in the concentration camp at Amache, Colo. He has been described as a thoughtful and efficient volunteer for Sakura Kai, an East Bay organization where he actively supports all programs, especially where seniors are involved. His volunteer efforts have been key in sustaining Sakura Kai as he faithfully fills in the need for additional manpower. Those who have worked with him describe the honoree as humble and gracious and a well-respected member of the Japanese American community.
The Takeo Okamoto Community Leadership Award is presented each year to an individual who exhibits the modest and scholarly “spirit” exemplified by Mr. Okamoto’s leadership qualities. The honorees are chosen for their values, integrity and years of community service.
This year’s recipient, Nobusuke Fukuda, was employed in the Social Services Department of the City of San Francisco, retiring in 1992 as a child welfare administrator. For nearly 30 years, he has supported the San Francisco Japantown community in a number of capacities. Those who know “Nob” say that his quiet demeanor, his careful approach and his understanding improve the work of all organizations in which he participates.”
As a member of Konko Church, he has led the Boy Scouts of America Troop 58 for many years, mentoring countless Japantown youth. He is one of the founders of the Japanese Bilingual-Bicultural Program in the San Francisco Unified School District, is a board member of the Japanese Benevolent Society of California (which operates the Japanese Cemetery in Colma), a member of Nikkei and Retirement, a member of the National Japanese American Historical Society, president of the Japanese American Democratic Club, and a former president and member of JCCCNC. The honoree is also a member of the San Francisco Barons, a social club formed shortly after World War II in Japantown.
Each awardee will receive a total prize of $1,000 ($500 each in the case of this year’s Volunteer Award recipients. Half goes to the recipient and the other half is donated to an organization of the recipient’s choice.
The awards presentation will be part of the JCCCNC’s “25th Anniversary of Opening Our Doors.” For more information, contact the JCCCNC at (415) 567-5505 or visit www.jcccnc.org.