Tuesday, December 19, 2006

‘Tis the Season for API Giving

Rafu Shimpo column for 12/19/06

Ah, the holidays. They come up so quickly, don’t they? It’s so hard to believe that 2007 is just a few weeks away. My husband Tony and I try to live within our means throughout the year so that we can support some of the Asian American and Pacific Islander nonprofit organizations who do such great work for the community.

This year, I thought I would share my Top 10 List of API organizations and causes that we have or will be supporting this year.

1. Great Leap: I worked at Great Leap for 7 years and am now on the Board of Directors. Great Leap is committed to producing art that nurtures the spirit to serve as a bridge across the divides of race, class and culture—opening dialogue, celebrating differences, and engaging people in a common goal. Under Nobuko Miyamoto’s artistic direction for over 28 years, Great Leap is at the top of my giving list for 2006. In 2007, look to Great Leap for Collaboratory 4, and “To All Relations: The Art of Weaving Faiths.” www.greatleap.org

2. Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress: Tony and I have been members of NCRR for many years. Along with leading the fight for Japanese American redress and reparations, NCRR continues to do amazing work, supporting causes of social justice, this year supporting Lt. Ehren Watada’s courageous stand against the war in Iraq and organizing the Southern California speaking tour of Watada’s parents. Save the date for the next Day of Remembrance on February 17, 2007. www.ncrr-la.org

3. Manzanar Committee: I volunteered with the Manzanar Committee for 8 years. The Manzanar Committee has sponsored and organized the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage for the past 37 years. Founded by the late Sue Kunitomi Embrey in 1969, the committee is currently planning the 38th annual pilgrimage dedicated to Sue’s activism and commitment to teaching others about the Japanese American concentration camp experience, set for April 28, 2007. www.manzanarcommittee.org

4. Center for Pacific Asian Family: CPAF’s mission is to build healthy and safe communities by addressing the root causes and the consequences of family violence and violence against women. CPAF is committed to meeting the specific cultural and language needs of API women and their families and provides transitional housing for API survivors who seek to establish independent, violence free lives. www.cpaf.info

5. Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance: KIWA’s mission is to empower low wage immigrant workers and to develop a progressive constituency and leadership among low wage immigrant workers in Los Angeles that can join the struggle in solidarity with other underrepresented communities for social change and justice. Founded in March 1992, KIWA has made a significant contribution to the empowerment of immigrant workers initiating the Koreatown Restaurant Workers Justice Campaign and Market Workers Justice Campaign. www.kiwa.org

6. Manilatown Heritage Foundation: The mission of Manilatown Heritage Foundation is to promote social and economic justice for Filipinos in America by preserving their history, advocating for equal access, and advancing arts and culture. In 1977, the elderly Filipino tenants of the International Hotel in San Francisco were evicted and the Hotel torn down. After almost 30 years of struggle, the International Hotel Senior Housing and Manilatown Center was opened last year. The center’s activities include exhibits, performances, film showings, classes and workshops, as well as a space where community members share stories, teach and learn. www.manilatown.org

7. Little Tokyo Recreation Center: Back in 1994, I participated in a charrette, kind of a brainstorming session with a group of young people who envisioned a gymnasium in Little Tokyo. Current efforts are to build the Little Tokyo Recreation Center as a multi-purpose, multi-generational center for basketball, volleyball, martial arts, as well as a space for cultural and community activities. The Rec Center is working on fundraising and obtaining site control next to the Little Tokyo Library, on Los Angeles Street, between 2nd and 3rd Streets. http://reccenter.ltsc.org

8. Visual Communications: The mission of Visual Communications is to promote intercultural understanding through the creation, presentation, preservation and support of media works by and about Asian Pacific Americans. VC was created with the understanding that media and the arts are important vehicles to organize and empower communities, and build connections between generations. VC is currently working on the “Save Our Stories” project to preserve, catalog and digitize 200 archival videotapes from Little Tokyo Redevelopment in the 70s. www.vconline.org

9. Little Tokyo Service Center: I am including LTSC, not just because I work there, but because it truly is an agency dedicated to “helping people and building community.” LTSC’s mission is to provide a comprehensive array of social services, building affordable housing, serving low income and other persons in need, contributing to community revitalization and cultural preservation in Little Tokyo, and to provide resources to neighboring Asian Pacific Islander and other low-income communities. www.ltsc.org

10. Japanese American Community Services: I’ve been on the Board of Trustees of JACS for the last few years. JACS is a small foundation that provides financial support to "emerging" API groups and projects in the greater Los Angeles area, with a focus on community service, health and human services, cultural arts and leadership development. JACS can be traced back to Shonien, an orphanage and day nursery for Japanese immigrants in the early 1900s. JACS has supported the Little Tokyo Residents Association, South Asian Network, Nikkei Community Internship and many other projects in the last few years. www.jacsfund.org

This is by no means a complete list. We don’t just support Asian American organizations, so I’ve added two additional organizations that are high on my priority list.

11. Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership: Back in 1998, we met the amazing Grace Lee Boggs, a movement activist in Detroit. At 91 years young, Grace has inspired us to challenge ourselves to look at our activism in different ways. The Boggs Center’s mission is to help grassroots activists develop themselves into visionary leaders and critical thinkers who can devise pro-active strategies for rebuilding and re-spiriting our cities and rural communities from the ground up, demonstrate the power of ideas in changing ourselves and our reality. www.boggscenter.org

12. Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research: The Southern California Library is a vital community resource in the heart of Los Angeles dedicated to education for social change. The Library offers unique and accessible collections and programs on Southern California's social and progressive history. www.socallib.org

So there’s my 2006 List for API Giving. These wonderful organizations are all non-profit, so donations to them are tax deductible. And while my list is based on my family’s principles and interests, I encourage Rafu readers to consider contributing to these organizations or to make their own lists.

As we reflect on our good fortune this season—we have good health, a house to live in, plenty of food to eat, careers we enjoy and a beautiful daughter—it’s time to sit down with some hot cocoa and start writing checks to our favorite organizations. Omedeto gozaimasu!

Jennifer "Emiko" Kuida has been active in the Japanese and Asian American community for the last 15 years. Opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo. © 2006

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