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The verb, volunteer, comes from the Middle French voluntaire – “one who offers himself for military service.” Over the centuries, the concept of volunteering has evolved.

In the USA, during The Great Awakening of the 19th century, the concept of volunteering grew, as many people felt it was their moral duty to apply their spiritual ethics to social issues. For example, during the harsh sufferings of the Civil War, women volunteered their time to provide aid for sick and wounded soldiers, or to sew supplies for the troops.

Later, The Great Depression witnessed a new unparalleled effort to organize volunteering to address hunger. Then during World War II, thousands of volunteer offices opened to help the needs of the military, such as collecting supplies and caring for injured soldiers.

Fast forward to the present, and there are millions of volunteers of all kinds in the USA.  One aspect of volunteering, which also had its origins in the Great Awakening, is to educate and raise awareness. In that light I praise our volunteers who worked:

  1. a) at the NVC/NVC Foundation Booth during JAPAN FAIR in Bellevue; and
  2. b) those who helped make the CHOW MEIN BAKE SALE a success.

Our big-hearted volunteers were at JAPAN FAIR supporting the legacies of the Japanese American soldier and of the Nikkei community experience.  I salute our generous and patriotic volunteers: Ryen Shimizu, Mari Wilson, Dorothy Muto-Coleman, Mike Yaguchi, Chris Sketchley, Jessica Perry, Aidan, Ellie, Pat Valerio, Walt Tanimoto, and Chairperson Geri Lynne Nakao-Egeler (who organized and directed us). A thank you to each one of them for making it a successful event.  I saw that they were smiling, chatting, and joking with the Japan Fair visitors.

Geri Lynne had created an inviting display which gave an overview of the Nisei soldier history.  Walt Tanimoto eagerly demonstrated an authentic M1 rifle to interested passersby. Mike Yaguchi provided a top-notch Smithsonian-sourced video on the Nisei soldier.  Mari Wilson very much wanted to explain our history to the Japanese and Chinese businesspeople at the Fair! Chris Sketchley was a reservoir of World War II information for the visitors. Dorothy Muto-Coleman, Jessica Perry, Aidan, and Ellie gave out good vibes and friendly energy and information. And by the way, I witnessed that many visitors to the booth wanted to do the talking and share their own stories or family history.

And as for the BAKE SALE — all the dough rolling, pie crust making, and apple slicingas well as all the baking at home of delicious baked treats — bore fruit as we met our sales goal and raised enough dough to equal one scholarship award of three thousand dollars, while also reminding the customers of our scholarship program.

The origins of our Bake Sale lie with the Women’s Auxiliary many years ago when Matsue Watanabe made the apple pies in her home. Her granddaughter, Tana Watanabe, has written a multi-paged apple pie baking procedure for us, detailing all the steps, materials, and formulas involved in making dozens of pies.

Making dozens of apple pies is an ordeal and a labor of love. It takes patience, coordination, and adapting to the unexpected. And yet, there is a team feeling of togetherness and unity, all pulling for a common noble cause.

I would like to thank Bev Kashino who successfully managed the event. I am also giving gratitude to SK Produce, who gave us apples at a discount.  And many kudos to City Produce and Mark Hidaka who donated many needed last minute emergency apples.

Each one of the following names represents a volunteer who gave of themselves and wanted to be a part of the group effort to be a part of the Foundation’s mission. Their hands and hearts made the pies, created the delicious home baked goods, and sold the items curbside.

Those who created the pies are:

Bev Kashino, Todd Natsuhara, Kim Muramoto, Ann Adachi, Michele Kenney, Carol Narasaki, Frank Kiuchi, Kathleen Okazaki, Cindy Kunitsugu, Ann Kumata, Sue Beeson, Janice Kunitsugu, Kathy Okawa, Nancy Yonemitsu, Kay Wakatake, Susan Asaba, Elaine Ishihara, Nancy Fujimoto, Sheldon Arakaki, Midori Kunitsugu, Jeff Yamane, Susie Yamane, Dave Handa, Stan Shikuma, Doreen Chen, and Charlene Lee.

Those who cheerfully sold the pies are Nancy Nakatsu, Carol Nichols, Carla Lew, Eli Zavatsky, Lika Seigal, Marina Seigal, Patricia Yano, Chris Susumi, Leslie Wittman, Ngoc Dinh, Bob Nishimura, and Patty Hiroo.

And finally, those who created home baked goods which raised tons of money are Sue Beeson, Susan Asaba, Kiyoko Takashima, Carla Mizuta, Buff Kohler, Nadine Nishimura, Chris Susumi, Ruth Shimano, Joan Hall, Margaret Teramoto, Leslie Wittman, Susie Yamane, Mary Ann Yamaguchi, Betty Noro-Kobayashi, Ngoc Dinh, Kathy Yee, Carol Nichols, Michael Ricciardi, Lauren Aratani, Nancy Nakatsu, Carla Lew, Shawn Brinsfield, Bev Kashino, and Chris Johnson.

I apologize to you if your name has not been mentioned.  I thank you and hope to see you all next year at this event.  May this team continue with your help and blessings.

(Bake sale photos were taken by the talented photographer Janice Kunitsugu!)

Bake Sale 5
Bake Sale 3
Bake Sale 2
Bake Sale 4
Bake Sale 1

2023 JAPAN FAIR – NVC & NVC FOUNDATION BOOTH