SAN FRANCISCO – The Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California will celebrate its 40th anniversary on Sept. 21 at the Annual Fundraising Event. But equally important, it will also recognize two longtime staff members whom many believe can be largely credited with sustaining continual growth for the organization over the past 25 years.
“We’ve been fortunate to have talented and dedicated people at all levels of the organization,” said Paul Osaki, JCCCNC executive director. “But there is one person who has stood by me through all the good and difficult times for the past 24 years, and I believe she has been the backbone of this organization.”
Osaki, who is also celebrating his own anniversary of 25 years of dedication to the JCCCNC and the community, is referring to his “boss,” Executive Assistant Marjorie Fletcher, who has an equally impressive 24 years at the JCCCNC.
Fletcher was first introduced to the JCCCNC in 1988 by a friend who brought her to a board meeting. She had recently retired from 40 years of service in the military and federal government and had very little knowledge about the center or the Japanese American community, but was looking to get involved in the community she now called home.
“The thing I enjoy most about working at the JCCCNC is the people,” she said when asked why she has stayed at the center for all of these years. “In the front office, I have the opportunity to see people who come through the door and I am happy to be able to say hello and chat with them.”
Fletcher joined the staff in 1989 and quickly became known as “Grandma Marj,” particularly to the staff, because of her warm, genuine and caring demeanor. During her tenure with the JCCCNC, besides managing the front office, she was a fixture volunteering for events she especially loved, such as the annual trips to Las Vegas, Reno, and more recently, Indian casinos.
She has also been extremely active in the community, organizing San Francisco/Bay Area Nikkei Singles (SF/BANS) activities and being involved with Buddhist Church of San Francisco’s Buddhist Women’s Association. She was recognized by the San Francisco JACL as an outstanding community volunteer.
Osaki also attributes many of the JCCCNC’s major accomplishments to Fletcher.
“We believe it is important that the community recognize Marjorie Fletcher’s outstanding contributions,” said Osaki. “She is the reason that so many continue to come in, donate, and feel so welcome. She is the one who has made this a second home in the community for so many. She’s also the reason that I am probably still working here today.”
At the Sept. 21 event, the JCCCNC will celebrate these momentous anniversaries with its usual flair. Popular San Francisco restaurants, such as Bridges, La Mar, Pa’ina and Roy’s, will line the center’s colorfully decorated gymnasium serving hors d’oeuvres. Hawaii’s renowned Pagoda Floating Restaurant, which is widely known for the tranquil Japanese koi pond surrounding it, will make its first appearance in the Bay Area to present the guests with main entrees that represents the flavorful history of Hawaii’s present and past.
The event will also feature a silent and live auction featuring a trip to Japan for two with airfare donated by Japan Airlines and accommodations for five nights provided by Kintetsu Travel.
Supporting the event are annual sponsors AT&T, Capcom, Comcast, Japan Airlines, Union Bank, and the Henri and Tomoye Takahashi Charitable Foundation.
Registration opens at 3 p.m. with the dinner program commencing at 4 p.m. Cost is $175 per person for reserved table seating and $50 for children 6-12. Call (415) 567-5505 for additional details. Event information is also available online at www.jcccnc.org. The JCCCNC is located at 1840 Sutter St. in San Francisco Japantown.
Proceeds from the event will go towards the development of dynamic cultural, educational, social, and outreach programs that serve the 185,000 visitors the center welcomes each year. These programs open doors to the Japanese and Japanese American culture, history and heritage, to build community with people of all ages through the shared experience of culture.