By David Ikeda
I seem to open every President’s Message with a line about how busy we are at JSS. But nonetheless it is true and it must be acknowledged.
Our counsellor Mr. Takanori Kuge has compiled some statistics that I presented to the Japanese Canadian Network Organization several days ago. The numbers are rather alarming for such a small agency and the community it serves. Over 600 contacts were made to JSS (not including emails). And although almost two thirds were “brief contacts” or informational in nature, our staff as Mr. Kuge noted in last month’s Counsellor’s Corner has been dealing with a few very serious and time consuming cases. Some of these included extreme isolation and domestic violence with victims being both women and children.
Shockingly the 48 cases of domestic violence that was reported in the last Counsellor’s Corner which was written in November has been revised upward to 55 for the year ending on December 31st. This is a big increase. Remember, our clients are 85 to 90 percent Japanese speakers. The number of Japanese speaking people is so small that 55 cases in just one year is devastating. Remember, these 55 are just those women who have actually sought out help from our agency. And for an agency as small as JSS, increases in these sorts of cases involve a lot of work, time and compassion on the part of our counseling staff. But then again that is why we are here. So we do what we can. I will address this again at the bottom of this article.
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In other news, our Holiday Drive was a great success. JSS made the Christmas season a little brighter for 29 families or 64 individuals with gifts of toys food and clothing. The gifts as you know are all provided by the wonderful members of our community who deposited the gift items in the donation boxes set up in all of our partner churches and organizations who have always placed them in prominent locations in their buildings.
I must also thank the churches that participated in the Joy of Christmas Concert. We raised over a thousand dollars from this one event. As well our staff and I had a great time. I would also like to thank the Toronto Buddhist Church for making a generous and unannounced donation of $2,000 and the NJCA (The New Japanese Canadian Association) for its generous gift of $3,000. As well I would like to acknowledge the generosity of our private donors like board member and fund raising chair Junko Yamamoto for her and her husband Sam’s donation of $10,000 as well as volunteer Tak Yoshida who donated $1,000. Tak san cooked for our annual volunteer appreciation day. Needless to say it was the first time in JSS history that we had an event where we rented a room, provided lunch at no charge to our volunteers, gave them a small gift and still made a profit.
However, with all of the above good news, JSS still is falling short financially. It is a sad fact that even though we have raised a lot of money our costs have soared even more. All of our staff have been working incredible overtime hours dealing with such things as the domestic violence cases noted above. Ours is a human resource based service. There is no social service machine or computer program to do what we do. The demand for those services is increasing but we are being forced to cut back. If you can, please think about making a donation or taking out a membership.
By David Ikeda