September News

Although Tonari Gumi has been recognized by the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and won awards from the Japanese Government for its programs and services for seniors within the Japanese Canadian community, there are still a lot of people who don’t know what Tonari Gumi does and why it’s important. To remedy this, over the coming months, Tonari Gumi will be “Reaching Out” to the wider Japanese Canadian and general communities to introduce its programs and services and to showcase what Tonari Gumi’s seniors can do. 

Starting in August and extending into the months of September and October, the Tonari Gumi Craft Club and Masako Arima, our Community Service Manager, will be demonstrating their craft making skills with the children at the Vancouver Japanese Language School, to seniors at the Steveston Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre and at the “Minna no Tsudoi” seniors’ group in Surrey, and in conjunction with Success, the Chinese community service group, in Richmond. Also, the Tonari Gumi Garden Club will be showcasing their new book on growing and eating Japanese traditional vegetables entitled, Our Edible Roots: A Japanese Canadian Kitchen Garden. This book was already sold at the Powell Street Festival and is currently available for purchase at the Tonari Gumi Craft Store, at the Nikkei Place Bookstore, the West Coast Seeds store and the Gulf of Georgia Cannery shop. They are also looking forward to holding an official “Book Launch Party” on Saturday, October 20 at Tonari Gumi. The Tonari Gumi Garden club is an example of “senior power” as it is led by seniors and encompasses participants from all different age groups and a variety of ethnic backgrounds. 

On August 20th, Tonari Gumi hosted a luncheon cruise up Indian Arm and some 30 seniors joined us for a memorable trip. Similarly, interesting trips are planned for each month, giving our seniors and the volunteers accompanying them, the opportunity to experience some truly interesting excursions. We want people to know that Tonari Gumi has something interesting to do for everyone. Watch for us over the coming months.

We also want everyone to know that Tonari Gumi has a new Executive Director. In fact, we have two talented individuals filling different aspects of the roles previously held by the Executive Director. Masako Arima, as explained above, is our Community Service Manager and she will be taking on most of the public responsibilities of an executive director, liaising with other community groups, both with the Japanese Canadian community and in the general community. Kumi Kakinuma is our Administrative Manager and she will be looking after most of the financial and administrative responsibilities of an executive director. Both Masako and Kumi are authorized to represent Tonari Gumi and we’re excited to have them with us.

Their intros are as follows: 

Masako Arima “It’s an honour to introduce myself to you as Tonari Gumi’s newly-appointed Community Services Manager. I started at Tonari Gumi as a volunteer in the Community Services and Program areas in 2011. I then worked as a staff from 2014 on the Senior Lighthouse Iki Iki program, a successful initiative driven in collaboration with Nikkei Seniors in Burnaby and the Steveston Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. Through these experiences, I was able to connect with many people and learned the importance of compassion and teamwork. I hope to help maintain our Japanese culture and to pass it onto the future generations. TG is a unique institution with a potential for growth. I’m truly humbled to serve Tonari Gumi. I’ll do my best to contribute and would like to take this opportunity to ask for your continued support.”

Kumi Kakinuma “I have been with Tonari Gumi since April 2015. Before that I was a short time volunteer helping lunch services at Cooper Place in 1990. The person in charge of the program is now participates in programs and receives services here. It was heart warming to see her, and made me realized the importance of the organization. With dedicated volunteers and members, I will do my best to continue to keep Tonari Gumi a familiar place where everyone is welcome, a place to find support and services when needed, and enjoy each others company not only for seniors but for all ages and background.”

This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)