June 2021 Issue
Equity and inclusivity are at the core of LTSC’s mission. This month, we share stories that highlight our equity-building work and uplift marginalized voices.
Okaeri Aims to Build a More Accepting Nikkei Community
In celebration of Pride Month, we sat down with opens in a new windowOkaeri, a Nikkei LGBTQ+ organization fiscally sponsored by LTSC. Okaeri hopes to transform the Nikkei community to be more compassionate and educated, so all LGBTQ+ Nikkei and their families feel safe, loved and connected.
What is Okaeri’s mission, and what makes it unique from other LGBTQ+ organizations?
Okaeri’s mission is to create visibility, compassionate spaces, and transformation for LGBTQ+ Nikkei and their families by sharing our stories and providing culturally-rooted support, education, community-building, and advocacy. We’re different from other LGBTQ+ organizations in that we focus specifically on Japanese American and Japanese-speaking communities.
Why is it important to have an LGBTQ+ organization in the Nikkei/AAPI community?
Many of us who identify as LGBTQ+ and Japanese American have often felt shamed, excluded or rejected by the Nikkei community. We sense that we have to hide our sexual orientation and gender identities to be accepted. At the same time, many of us have experienced racism in LGBTQ+ spaces. Okaeri provides LGBTQ+ Japanese Americans a community in which we can be our whole selves and not leave our ethnic identity or our LGBTQ+ identity at the door. For many of us, Okaeri is the first space in which we’ve felt that we could reconcile our queer and Nikkei identities and be seen and valued for all of who we are.
What are some of Okaeri’s goals? What changes do you hope to make in the community?
Our overarching goal is to create a safe, loving, and accepting world for LGBTQ+ Nikkei and their families where all identities are celebrated, respected, and embraced. To achieve that goal, we have partnered with Japanese American cultural organizations, Buddhist temples, and Christian churches on educational programs to help make the broader Nikkei community more accepting. We also organize ongoing English-language and Japanese-language discussion groups for LGBTQ+-identified Nikkei, family members and allies so that we can support each other and frankly discuss common challenges and celebrate our Nikkei and queer identities. Okaeri in Japanese means “welcome home.” So in the end, we want to transform our Nikkei community to be more compassionate and educated, so all LGBTQ+ Nikkei and their families feel safe, loved and connected to our community.
What can people do to support Okaeri and the LGBTQ+ community?
Participate in Okaeri’s ongoing programs and attend our virtual conference that will take place Nov. 12-14. Visit opens in a new windowokaeri-losangeles.org and our social media ( opens in a new windowInstagram and opens in a new window Facebook) to learn about our programs. opens in a new windowSign up for our newsletter, so you’ll know about upcoming events. In addition, folks who don’t identify as LGBTQ+ can be supportive by having honest conversations with their LGBTQ+ family members, friends, co-workers, and neighbors about the challenges they face and the kind of support they’d appreciate. Finally, some people are not able or ready to attend events or feel comfortable talking about LGBTQ+ issues, but still want to be supportive. opens in a new windowDonations of any amount are always welcome to support the programs and work we do.
As a member of the Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing (SCANPH), LTSC and members of SCANPH issued an amicus brief regarding Judge Carter’s injunction. The injunction redirects funds for permanent supportive housing towards temporary shelters. Though we agree that homelessness is a humanitarian crisis and that there is an urgent need for housing in Los Angeles, Judge Carter’s injunction will divert public funding away from creating new supportive and affordable housing for unhoused and low income residents. By emphasizing temporary shelter instead of building permanent supportive housing, the injunction will not end homelessness in Los Angeles, and is only making things worse by impeding the progress on building permanent supportive housing.
Please help LTSC and SCANPH spread the word about the amicus brief, by posting about it on your social media. Please see below for a sample post:
“The injunction in Alliance v. LA will divert public funding away from creating new supportive and affordable housing for unhoused and low-income residents. The injunction will not end homelessness in Los Angeles. Read @SCANPH amicus brief filed in the case: opens in a new windowhttps://bit.ly/3iPzMAh“
Central City United Coalition (CCU) Aims to Make Sure Community Needs are Met in Upcoming Community Plan
As a member of the Central City United coalition (CCU), LTSC is working with neighborhood organizations representing Skid Row and Chinatown to uplift the voices of low-income, immigrant and unhoused residents who will be affected by the DTLA 2040 Community Plan. Members of the CCU coalition have gathered input from residents, community stakeholders and experts to identify the priorities and needs of residents that must be met in order to ensure an equitable future for all of Little Tokyo, Skid Row and Chinatown’s residents. The coalition released the CCU People’s Plan to provide the Los Angeles Department of City Planning with community input and recommendations as they put together the DTLA 2040 Community Plan.
Enter our custom-built virtual world where you can explore a digital Little Tokyo, get a sneak peek into Terasaki Budokan or have a moment of Zen in the beautiful Japanese garden. Pick an avatar and interact with other attendees and entertainers!
You’ll bump into old friends and meet new ones, learn about sake, and enjoy musical performances, entertainment and activity booths. We’ll have a silent auction with great items for you to bid on and fun games to play. We even have Sake tasting kits and bento boxes available for pick up.
It’s only happening once and tickets are going fast, so be sure to get your tickets before they sell out!
Saturday, July 17, 2021
VIP reception: 6:00 p.m.
Main event: 7:00 p.m.
Purchase a sake tasting kit and bento dinner to enhance your virtual event experience! Must pick up in Little Tokyo or South Bay.
*Must be 21 or over to purchase sake kits.
Nicole Lopez, LTSC’s Director of Child Development, recently won the opens in a new windowCircle of Excellence Awardopens PDF file from EveryChild California. The Circle of Excellence is awarded to a member of EveryChild California who has supported the Associations’ endeavors and has shown outstanding leadership within the ECE community.
We’re so proud to have dedicated and inspiring staff like Nicole on our team. Congratulations Nicole!
LTSC’s Executive Director, Erich Nakano recently spoke on a national Neighborworks Panel titled ‘Working Towards Safer AAPI Communities’. Erich was joined by speakers from other AAPI organizations as they presented and discussed how they have been working to combat the uptick in violence against the Asian community.
With Covid restrictions being lifted, Terasaki Budokan is now open to the general public for rentals! Host your next event at the all new facility or rent out the gym for recreational use. For more details on renting the facility, opens in a new windowclick here to view the digital brochureopens PDF file , or visit the Budokan website at opens in a new windowhttps://www.terasakibudokan.org/
LTSC partners with UCLA students to mentor youth in our buildings. Despite the pandemic, CHAMPS mentors continued to meet with the youth virtually, and recently donated food items to support our families. Thank you!
For more articles and news stories featuring LTSC, visit the “In the News” section of our website opens in a new windowHERE!
May 2021 Donors
Thank you to all our supporters for your contributions last month!
Add your name to the list by making a opens in a new windowDONATION today.
Deanna Atkinson and Haley Rushing
Kyu Won Choi
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Samantha de Castro
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Menache Even Danan
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Christine and Denny Huang
Kelley and Cliff Ikeda
Hank and Joy Iwamoto
Jennifer and Doug Kawaguchi
A Young Keum
Kiboh Giving Circle: Joyce and Dr. Glen Komatsu, Lorraine and Lee Ouye, Tami and Nori Nishida, Sandy and Alan Kosaka, Tracey and Mark Doi
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In Honor of Katie Mitani’
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Terasaki Budokan Memorial Gifts
In Memory of Betty Kitabayashi
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Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches (A3M)
Christine and Denny Huang
The Swinerton Foundation
Japanese American Bar Association
Kabushiki Gaisha Atora a
The Kawahara Family
Akira Kawasaki Family
Jeremy Tochihara, Boy Scout Troop 719
Marsha and Gary Watanabe