JCCCNC announces recipients of Okamoto volunteer and leadership awards


The Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC) announced on Sept. 9 the 2010 recipients of the Kay Okamoto Volunteer Award and the Takeo Okamoto Community Leadership Award. Each award will be presented at “Tabemasho: From Generation to Generation,” the JCCCNC’s annual event, which will be held on Sept. 25.

Marcia Hashimoto, photo by Carol Kaneko

Kay Okamoto Volunteer Award

Marcia Hashimoto of Watsonville, Calif., is the recipient of the 2010 Kay Okamoto Volunteer Award.

Hashimoto is a retired kindergarten teacher, and has volunteered with the Watsonville Buddhist Temple, the Watsonville-Santa Cruz chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, Kokoro no Gakko and Asian Pacific Islander Community Awareness.

Hashimoto has volunteered with the Watsonville-Santa Cruz chapter of the JACL’s senior center and youth activities, as well as edited the newsletter, coordinated the Day of Remembrance program, raised funds and served as an advocate of civil rights and veterans issues.

Beyond dedicating her time to the Watsonville Buddhist Temple as a Dharma School Teacher, she actively participates with the Adult Buddhist Association, supporting all the temple’s regular activities and special events.

Robert Rusky, courtesy of JCCCNC

Takeo Okamoto Community Leadership Award

Robert Rusky is the 2010 recipient of the Takeo Okamoto Community Leadership Award.

Rusky has supported the San Francisco Japantown community in various capacities for nearly 30 years.

He was a member of the coram nobis legal team that represented Fred Korematsu in reopening his landmark Supreme Court case. Rusky has also served as president of Friends of Hibakusha.

He has also served as an advisory board member of the Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program at Rosa Parks Elementary School.

Rusky and his wife Karen Kai became actively involved with Nihonmachi Little Friends (NLF) when their son enrolled in the school.

Rusky served as first lead counsel on the Soko Bukai case against the San Francisco YWCA, which in 1996, listed the property for sale, served notice to evict its tenants, and denied it had agreed in 1921 to hold “paper title” to the property with the promise that it would be held in trust for the Japanese YWCA. In May of 2002, the settlement agreement between Soko Bukai and the San Francisco YWCA formally closed.

Most recently Rusky has worked on several subcommittees evaluating the Draft Japantown Better Neighborhood Plan.

The Okamoto family established the Kay Okamoto Volunteer Award in 1988 to recognize an individual who exemplifies Kay Okamoto’s spirit of volunteerism in the Japanese American community.

Kay Okamoto assisted in organizing the Hamilton Senior Center, becoming its first coordinator. Her diverse service history also included assisting with the formation of Satsuki Kai, a Japanese wives group; being president of the San Francisco Buddhist Church Junior Fujin Kai; a member of the Bay District chapter of Ikebana International; captain of the membership drive for the San Francisco Symphony; and committee member of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco.

The Takeo Okamoto Community Leadership Award is presented to an individual who exhibits the modest and scholarly “spirit” exemplified by Takeo Okamoto’s leadership qualities. Respected for his family values, integrity and seven decades of community service, Takeo Okamoto was an effective yet unassuming community leader. His family established the award in his memory in 2004.

Each award recipient will receive a total prize of $1,000. Five hundred dollars is awarded to the recipient and $500 is donated to an organization of the recipient’s choice.

The community is invited to the awards presentation on Sept. 25, beginning at 4 p.m., as part of the JCCCNC’s fundraising event. “Tabemasho” will be a Japanese American culinary experience that celebrates the sharing of food through the generations and will feature appetizer stations from renowned Bay Area chefs and local restaurants.

Tickets are $100 a person.

For more information at the event, contact the JCCCNC at (415) 567-5505 or visit www.jcccnc.org.

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