Modeling and Mentoring to Support Our Community’s Future

Last Saturday, I attended a fundraising dinner along with several of my Keiro colleagues and few hundred others, in support of Kizuna on its 5th Anniversary. The event was co-chaired by Kizuna Board members Jill Hiraizumi-Artino and Brandon Leong, who is also a staff member at Keiro.  Brandon is a great example of the next generation “in action” not only working for an organization that supports the community, but giving of his time and expert ise to volunteer in a leadership capacity for Kizuna. (If you missed his post about why he volunteers, check out his post on Genki Living)

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Kizuna Dinner Co-Chairs Brandon Leong and Jill Hiraizumi-Artino (standing) with Keiro staff, Heather Harada and Kevin Onishi, who both participated in Kizuna’s Next Generation Leadership program.

Part of the evening’s program included acknowledgement of key community leaders who provided support and encouragement to the young organization’s staff and many volunteers as they planned this celebration and considered ways to maximize this opportunity to generate awareness and support.

Gary Kawaguchi was among those recognized for his support of Kizuna. As a staff member with Keiro, and having worked at the Japanese American National Museum previously during the organization’s early years, I’ve had the privilege of working with Gary and so many other selfless volunteers and donors who contribute their time and financial support to benefit organizations and groups that serve the community.

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Gary & Suzette Kawaguchi, with Dianne Belli (left)

I’m not surprised to learn that Gary supports Kizuna by spending time with the staff and their volunteers, as he has a long history of involvement with community groups and youth. Speaking from just Keiro’s perspective, Gary along with a small group of Sansei professionals in 1988 launched “Visions for Keiro,” a support group with a purpose to raise visibility and funds for Keiro’s service to older generations. They hosted a charity golf tournament annually for 20 years with proceeds supporting equipment purchases like resident buses and installation of Wi-Fi in the facilities. The group also organized an annual holiday bingo event for retirement home residents, which enabled interaction among residents and family members, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and youth-oriented groups like Nikkei Bridge. (Fifty Years, 50 Stories: Celebrating All Things Keiro, 2011)

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Visions for Keiro, circa 1990

Brandon and Gary are just two wonderful examples of modeling and mentoring to support the next generation. They demonstrate the value of multi-generational connections through their actions, both professionally and in their volunteer efforts. Through Kizuna’s programs and partnerships with a number of organizations, including Keiro, I’m encouraged and inspired by the collective work of individuals and organizations to support the next generation and our community!

For more photos from the event, please visit Keiro’s Facebook.

Keiro continues its partnership with Kizuna, and through the Nikkei Community Internship program has hosted an intern annually for the past 5 years. For information about Kizuna, visit their website.

Founded in 1961, Keiro is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of senior life in Our Community. Our organization provides resources, tools, and culturally sensitive programs to help older adults age on their own terms and live with dignity, vitality and confidence. We also support caregivers with problem-solving approaches to manage some of their toughest challenges.  Find out more at:


About the Author: 
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Audrey Lee-Sung is Keiro’s Director of Development & Communications. Embracing lifelong learning, she recently earned her Master of Public Administration degree from Cal State Northridge. To stay Genki Audrey is rediscovering the outdoors through hiking and cycling.



The material presented on this site is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily represent the opinions of Keiro, or its contributors. Readers should consult appropriate health, legal, or financial professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.  Full disclaimer


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