LTSCene – March 2019 - A Young Leader Steps Up for Mental Health - Little Tokyo Service Center

Chosen logo for LTSCene by Little Tokyo Service Center


March 2019 Issue

Max Takuya Kaito

Max Takuya Kaito

Changing Minds, Changing Lives, Changing Tides

Max Takuya Kaito is 23-years-old. Unassuming. Smart. Friendly. A UCLA graduate with a degree in biology. Currently busy studying for the MCAT in hopes of getting into medical school. If you looked up the phrase “clean cut,” you’d see a picture of Max. All of this, of course, is a superficial look into his life.

Max is also the child of immigrant parents. A second-generation Japanese American who was born and raised in the South Bay where he lived for the first 14 years of his life. His happy life was abruptly taken away from him when family circumstances forced him to move to Arizona in the middle of his freshman year of high school. Away from a diverse community. Away from his friends. Away from his sister. Away from his sense of self.

He was now one of three Asian Pacific Islanders at school (number two of three was 1/16 Japanese). It was not uncommon for him to be asked: “Do you speak Asian?” or “do you do karate?”

Community Members Tell the Story of Little Tokyo

LTSC Small Business Counselor Mariko chats with James Choi.

LTSC Small Business Counselor Mariko Lochridge chats with Cafe Dulce owner James Choi.

The stories of a community—about its traditions, major events and influential figures—shape its identity.

Earlier this year, LTSC’s Small Business Assistance Program teamed up with Hollywood Fish Bowl, a podcast about working in LA’s media and entertainment fields, to capture a collection of conversations around entrepreneurship, community activism and arts activation in Little Tokyo. The effort resulted in nine rich conversations with members of the community, composing an oral history of the neighborhood that we call home. Organizers spoke with historians, legacy business managers, entrepreneurs, artists and community organizers because when it comes to listening, there’s no such thing as too much.

A special thanks to Metro Los Angeles for their support of this project.

Watch a video about the project.

Click below to listen to the interviews:

Episode 1: About the Series with Mariko Lochridge, LTSC-SBAP Counselor
Episode 2: Mike Murase, Little Tokyo bystander 🙂
Episode 3: Carol Tanita, LTSC-SBAP client and shopkeeper of legacy business Rafu Bussan
Episode 4: Kayoko Suzuki-Lange, LTSC-SBAP client and creator of the DTLA Book
Episode 5: James Choi, LTSC-SBAP Client and owner of Cafe Dulce
Episode 6: Scott Oshima, Project Manager of Sustainable Little Tokyo
Episode 7: Kristin Fukushima, Community Lead for Little Tokyo Community Council
Episode. 8: Darin Maki, LTSC-SBAP client and entrepreneur-in-residence at 341 FSN (in partnership with Sustainable Little Tokyo)
Episode 9: Shoshi Watanabe, LTSC-SBAP client and entrepreneur-in-residence at 341 FSN

Mental Health Initiative Featured at 341 FSN

Little Tokyo Service Center March LTSCene Newsletter

Guests visit the Changing Tides exhibition. Photo: Linda Kranz.

In recent months, LTSC has utilized its +LAB location (341 FSN) to empower and engage the Little Tokyo community by providing a space for artists, entrepreneurs, and other partnerships to temporarily reside.

Throughout the month of February, 341 FSN was occupied by Changing Tides, a youth-driven initiative of LTSC that focuses on generating conversations on mental health in the Asian American community. Leaders of the initiative organized a thought-provoking pop-up art gallery displaying pieces by 23 Nikkei artists, all with art centered around the idea of mental health.

Approximately 700 visitors stopped by 341 FSN throughout the month to take in the exhibit, share personal stories and enjoy performances by artists such as, musician Miharu Okamura, acapella group Grateful 4, poet Sabrina Im and singer Sophia Inaba.

March is National Professional Social Work Month

LTSC's Social Services Department staff

LTSC’s Social Services Department staff

March is National Professional Social Work Month. There are numerous different types of social workers, who assist everyone from children, to families, immigrant communities, domestic violence victims and more. LTSC’s bilingual social worker Namiko Chinen shared her unique experiences in the Winter edition of LTSC’s social services newsletter Through the Seasons (p.4).

Funder Spotlight: Santa Monica Nikkei Hall Fund

Seniors enjoy an LTSC field trip.

Seniors enjoy an LTSC field trip.

LTSC received a generous grant from the Santa Monica Nikkei Hall Fund to support our services for Japanese American and other seniors throughout Los Angeles.

The Santa Monica Nikkei Hall was established as a community organization in the early 1950s by Isseis living in the Bay Cities region of Los Angeles County. With the passing of many of its members over the years, the Santa Monica Nikkei Hall Fund was established by the remaining three members after the sale of their land and building. The Fund is administered by the Asian Pacific Community Fund.

The majority of LTSC’s senior clients live alone without a caregiver or family support. With an array of services, counseling and recreational opportunities, LTSC supports seniors and their choice to age in place. We address their physical and mental health needs so that they may continue living in their homes for as long as possible.

LTSC would like to thank the Santa Monica Nikkei Hall Fund for supporting our services for seniors in Los Angeles.

Thank You to JABA Young Lawyers Group

LTSC staff show appreciation for items donated by the JABA.

LTSC staff show appreciation for items donated by the JABA.

The Japanese American Bar Association (JABA) Young Lawyers Group coordinated a food drive in support of LTSC’s social service clients. What our clients truly appreciated about the food drive was its focus on gathering Japanese and other Asian foods. Food donations can be hard to come by; Asian food drives are a rarity. LTSC thanks JABA for being a year-round community partner. In addition to the food drive, JABA regularly holds legal clinics for LTSC’s low-income, senior and Japanese-speaking community.

Small Business Workshop on Effective Newsletters

Small Business Workshop on Effective Newsletters

Small Business Workshop on Effective Newsletters

On Saturday, March 9, the LTSC Small Business Assistance Program will hold a workshop on effective newsletters. The workshop will cover the basics of launching a newsletter, how to grow a newsletter audience and how to keep your newsletter from landing in spam folders. You’ll also learn about key performance indicators, like open rates and click rates. This workshop is useful for digital media strategists of all levels, but previous HTML and newsletter experience is useful.

Luis Gomez, an opinion engagement editor at The San Diego Union-Tribune with more than 10 years of experience in social media and digital media, will lead the workshop. Gomez is also the publisher of the CA//MEDIA//JOBS Newsletter, an online resource for student journalists and working professionals to find job opportunities in newsrooms in California and across the US.


Thank you to all our supporters for your contributions last month!

February 2019 Donors

Ted Akahori
Elizabeth Burton
Debbie Chen
Yi Bing Chen and Ming Shan Liang
Mr. Cheung
Consulate General of Japan
Rey Fukuda
Lisa Hasegawa
Hoops for Friends
Dick and Pauline Kaku
Jessica Kanai
Shunsuke and Yukiko Kurakata
Atsuko Lee
Nicole Lopez
Gary and June Masada
Robert and Teresa Matsushima
Janet and Henry Minami, Jr.
Erica Namba
May and John Nosse
Tracy Okida
Glenn and Donna Sanada
So-Phis Organization of Orange County
Nikki Kealalio Sutton
Hisami Tahara
Stacey Tanaka
Keith Umemoto
United Way California Capital Region
Marsha and Gary Watanabe
Poy Lan Woo
Catherine Yen
Eileen and Dan Yoshimura
Kaori Young
Cui Ling Zhu

In Honor of Vivienne Lee

In Honor of California Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi
Katsushiro Nakagawa
Sadao Tome

In Memory of Jeannette Kyoko Sanderson
Emily and Dan Weaver

Terasaki Budokan

Laura Blosser and Chris Argyros
Akira Fujimoto
Scott Ito and Nan Lee
Chester and Eileen Kido
Jessie Kikuchi and Brent Mori
Mike Murase and June Hibino
Grant Sunoo and Emily Maeda
Nikki Kealalio Sutton
Akemi Arakaki and Takao Suzuki
Ken Wada
Yonsei 11

In Memory of Denny Sunabe
Ivan, Ann and Corey Chung
Karen Muranaka
Giles Quan
Chiyoko Sunabe

In-kind Donations

Marion DeLellis
Ezaki Glico USA Corporation
Erin Hsu
JABA Young Lawyers Group Committee
Kathy and Mark Masaoka
Mickie Okamoto-Tsudama and Geoff Tsudama
Marsha and Gary Watanabe

Vehicle Donations

Patty Takayama

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