By David Ikeda
It is hard to believe that we are starting a new year here at JSS and that I will have completed my first year as president of the organization. The last year was a challenging one for us all here. We gained a new generous source of funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan, hired new staff yet still found ourselves facing financial challenges because of other unexpected losses. Personally the greatest challenge was trying to head the organization after the many years of excellent leadership from Mr. and Mrs. Maekawa.
As you know this organization was led by Mr. Maekawa who served as president and Mrs. Maekawa who served as volunteer coordinator for almost 13 years. These were their formal titles but they did so much more behind the scenes. It is not an exaggeration to say that if it was not for the Maekawas there would be no JSS.
If you served on the board of this organization chances are it was because Mr. Maekawa asked you to join. The only reason I am here for example is because he asked me to come back. The Maekawas organized the Hot Lunch Program, a valuable fund raising source, which involved two full days of shopping and then cooking and organizing lunch for the Wynford Seniors. They also organized the Holiday Drive Program dropping off bins and then collecting, dividing and distributing the generous donations from the community to those in need. Chances are if you dropped by the office randomly most likely you would have bumped into the Maekawas, they were there all the time it seemed.
On a more personal note I would like to thank the Maekawas for their continued service to the organization. I thank Mr. Maekawa for his support and mentorship. He always made himself available for advice. Never once has he admonished me with a “no, no you should do it this way,” or been critical of anything I have done even though I know mistakes were made. I cannot over-emphasize what a great quality this is and how in my mind it marks Mr. Maekawa as a great leader. His confidence instills confidence.
And let us not forget the contributions from Mrs. Maekawa. Her hard work and dedication were evident although she avoided the limelight. She attended almost every board meeting but never joined as a member. As volunteer coordinator she was also the first contact for most of our volunteers. Indeed, she continued to lead the Hot Lunch program long after her husband resigned as president and almost to the date they will leave for Japan. She has never asked for thanks for this and only responds with a her well known good humored self deprecating remarks.
We here at JSS wish the Maekawas well on their journey back to life in Japan and thank them from the bottom of our hearts for their remarkable service to this organization and this community. May we remember them always and endeavor to emulate their sense of service and generosity.
By David Ikeda