Why I Volunteer and Still Call the Facilities “Keiro” – Part 2

By Guest Blogger June Aochi Berk

For me personally, I believe that being with these ladies at the retirement home formerly owned by Keiro (soon to be known as Sakura Gardens) has helped to keep me energized and active both in heart and spirit.  It’s a privilege to volunteer at Keiro Retirement Home (soon to be known as Sakura Gardens).  The friendships that have been developed through the years have been a gift to me.  Each person brings his or her own history with them to the retirement home, and as I enjoy listening to their stories, and it has enriched my life also.

June Berk Blog Pic 4

iPad Class volunteers: June, Lee (June’s daughter) and Ron, with Keiro staff member Kevin Onishi

It’s been my observation that the volunteers I have seen and gotten to know at the former Keiro facility are all there because they enjoy the camaraderie with the residents.  It is like a family caring for each other. This is the same kind of caring that I have gotten to know among the volunteers at JANM and at the Little Tokyo Senior Nutrition Center.

At a recent luncheon for the volunteers, hosted by the new owners, it was made clear that they welcome the volunteers.  They seem also to care that the residents have continued relationships with the volunteers.  For us, it’s not a matter of the issues of the sale, but rather the continued relationships with the residents, whom we have come to love.  We would not abandon them.  They are like family to us.  Many of the residents do not have family living nearby.  So, to develop a friendship means being part of their family.  And for that, we feel very honored and we would not want to betray their trust in us.

I believe that Genki Living starts with being actively engaged with your friends and family – having lunches, breakfasts and get-togethers on a regular basis. And at the retirement home it has been fun to enjoy lunch and being together with our new friends.

We are a family – and this, I believe, is at the heart of a volunteer, and what “Genki Living” is all about.


About the Author: 

June Berk is also a Board member of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition, which is developing a traveling exhibit that will open October 2nd at the San Fernando Valley Japanese Community Center.  The exhibit will travel to San Diego, and then open on December 10, 2017 at JANM.  “Only the Oaks Remain” will tell the story of the men who were rounded up after December 7th, and held at Tuna Canyon, without due process, and without a hearing, taken from their families to U.S. Justice Camps in states as far as Montana, North Dakota, Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico.  These stories are told through the descendants of the men who were detained at Tuna Canyon.  For more information please visit their website.

June has been volunteering for about 5 years at Keiro, assisting the knitting teacher, Emi Scott, at the weekly knitting and crochet/craft classes, and also participating with some of the women residents in a class called “Talk Stories” or “Omoi-da-shi no-Ohanashi” which meets regularly at the retirement home, formerly owned by Keiro.  June is also a volunteer assistant in the new iPad class for retirement home residents.

Volunteering is not only good for the community, it’s good for your own health! Studies show that volunteers enjoy longer lives, have lower rates of depression and heart disease, and are better able to keep up with the physical demands of everyday life. For more information on becoming a volunteer and supporting residents please visit our website.

Keiro is expanding our reach from a focus on long term health care facilities to broadly engaging and supporting thousands of Japanese American and Japanese older adults throughout Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange counties. Keiro provides services to older adults and caregivers, along with programs for residents of Keiro’s former facilities—helping older adults in Our Community to age the way they choose.

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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