PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE: Updates from David Ikeda

We have finished a busy summer here at JSS. Since the July issue of the newsletter, we have welcomed another new board member, Tomoko Fukushima, hosted our Volunteer Appreciation Lunch, and begun one of our most important annual fundraising campaigns, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
I do not say “important” lightly. JSS relies on financial donations. Historically, JSS has been supported by the Nisei or second generation Japanese Canadians whose ancestry in Canada dates before World War II. This generation built the JCCC, various churches, and temples, as well as the Momiji Health Care Society to name only a few of the organizations they established. Unfortunately, as this remarkable generation retires or passes on, services like ours find it increasingly difficult to find sources of financial support.
The primary population JSS serves now is Ijusha Japanese, namely “newer” Japanese immigrants and their successors who came mostly during and after the 1970s as well as some Japanese nationals. This population is growing. JSS’ services to seniors whose first language is Japanese has doubled in the last 9 years.
The need for our services is growing. Our services should be expanding, but instead we are having to cut services because of a shortfall in funds.
There have been a few individuals who have stepped up to help us help some of the more vulnerable members of our community. For example, this year an anonymous donor gave — as he/she has done in the past — $3,000 to be spent exclusively on our “Konnichiwa program.” The latter is a very popular service we provide whereby Japanese speaking volunteers make regular visits to isolated seniors in our community to relieve some of the loneliness. As we all know there are so few Japanese living in the GTA that losing vital social ties and genuine human contact can have devastating mental, physical, as well as spiritual deficits.
On the other side of the age range, we have had to cut many of the programs targeting young families and children, such as parenting classes. However, another generous donor has provided regular funds to maintain our “Single Mothers’ Support Group” program.
It is wonderful that private donors support these programs, but we provide services to more than seniors and single mothers. There are operational costs such as office space, utilities, and of course staff salaries. As I noted in a previous message, JSS has already cut staff hours and material costs in an effort to stay on budget. But even this is proving challenging. More cuts are going to be necessary if we cannot find more financial support.
If you can, please consider making even a small donation to our upcoming fundraiser, “Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon” which will be held at the Scotiabank Charity Challenge on October 20th. Members of our staff, board, and volunteers will be running or walking in various races in support of the Japanese community.
So please check the rest of this newsletter and our social media sites where you can find the “DONATE” button. We — as well as those we serve — will greatly appreciate any support you can give. Thank you so much.