Volunteers are at the heart of everything that Tonari Gumi does. Without their service, we would not be able to deliver the vast variety of different programs and services which benefit the lives of our seniors within the community. On Saturday, August 29th, more than 70 of our many volunteers gathered to be fed, entertained and honoured. Our dedicated volunteers serve in a vast array of different activities, ranging from the following: planning and preparing our thrice weekly healthy and delicious Japanese lunches; preparing for and teaching dozens of classes, workshops and exercise activities each week; planning, purchasing and preparing a weekly Japanese lunch for Japanese Canadian residents at the Royal Arch Seniors Residence; providing a welcome friendly visit for more than 20 seniors at various care facilities who are isolated due to language and cultural barriers; helping frail and dementia challenged seniors to participate in programs specifically designed for them; delivering a Japanese lunch to homebound seniors; assisting low-income seniors to prepare their income tax returns; accompanying seniors to medical and government appointments to assist in interpreting; and helping at our many fundraising activities, including the Powell Street Festival, our annual golf tournament, our bazaars, concerts and Tonari Gumi’s famous Premium Sake Tasting Night.
On Saturday’s Volunteer Appreciation Party, in addition to a delicious lunch catered by Izumi-ya, the talented Michael Ouchi regaled everyone with his unique and creative balloon art objects and the “Za Daikon” theatre group entertained with songs and a rousing Japanese sword fight. Participants were also presented with a certificate of appreciation from Tonari Gumi. Special thanks also goes to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who were so kind as to provide their spacious church facilities for free for this enjoyable and rewarding event.