In February, 2012, for the first time in its nearly 38 year history, Tonari Gumi now owns its own building and has a home of its own! This would not have been possible without the generosity of Mr. Tom Kusumoto and his family. In addition, the JCCA of Greater Vancouver has agreed to sell the building currently being used by Tonari Gumi to fund major renovations to the new building so that Tonari Gumi can move there by mid-2013.
Tonari Gumi is grateful to many individuals who are playing important roles in helping in the creation of what will be the future home of Tonari Gumi. First, the Tonari Gumi Board of Directors, chaired by Joji Kumagai, continues to do its essential job of ensuring that Tonari Gumi keeps operating during this period of transition. However, two other key committees are playing an important role in getting this project completed. Overall responsibility for managing the renovation of the new building rests with the Tonari Gumi/JCCA Joint Building Committee, chaired by Greg Todd and consisting of Joji Kumagai, Heidi Hamano, Les Fugeta, Joanne Kuroyama, Gary Matson, Shag Ando, Jack Matsushita and Morgan Elander. Assisting the Joint Building Committee is a Building Advisory Sub-Committee chaired by Derek Iwanaka and consisting of Henry Wakabayashi, Kenji Ito, Tom Kusumoto, Dennis Shikaze and Takeo Yamashiro. The Advisory Sub-Committee is playing a key role in helping to select which group will design and make the renovations to the building. This advisory sub-committee will also help Tonari Gumi and the JCCA to identify and find both in-kind and financial donors so the new building can be fully completed and become both Tonari Gumi’s new home and another home for the Japanese Canadian community in the City of Vancouver.
While Tom Kusumoto was key to this project getting started, many others within the community have become involved in helping this new home become a reality. This is what community is all about!