May 2021 Issue
LTSC’s Changing Tides Works to Erase the Stigma Around Mental Health Among the AAPI Community
At LTSC, the Changing Tides program leads the charge in tackling the stigma around mental health amongst the Japanese American and broader Asian American community. They aim to do so by inspiring greater conversations surrounding mental health, educating the community, and creating a more open minded generation. With May being both Mental Health Awareness month and AAPI Heritage month, we celebrate the work that Changing Tides has been doing to promote mental wellness among the AAPI community.
What first started as an open conversation hosted by youth and young adults around compassion and well being, Changing Tides has evolved into a LTSC program. In order to achieve their goals, the Changing Tides team have been working tirelessly to create change through education and conversation, much like their first event. By creating safe spaces where open dialogue about mental health can take place, participants in their programs get a chance to share their journeys, while learning from other’s experiences. They’ve achieved this through multiple avenues, from facilitating workshops, to organizing events like the CT Cafe, and even hosting their own podcast.
Though there still remains a stigma surrounding mental health in the AAPI community, and in society as a whole, we hope that programs like Changing Tides can push the conversation around mental wellness forward, so that future generations are more open minded. This AAPI Heritage and Mental Health Awareness month, we celebrate Changing Tides’ accomplishments thus far, and invite you to join the conversation!
LTSC’s artist in residence, Carol Zou, reached out to residents at LTSC’s buildings, and asked them to reflect upon and illustrate what “community care” meant to them during this past year. The pieces which were received will be collaged and turned into vinyl window decals that will be displayed on windows around Little Tokyo, such as Budokan and Casa Heiwa, so that the community can enjoy the artwork in a safe and socially distanced manner.
A total of 22 pieces were submitted by residents, and the resident-led Community Action Team is working with Kenji Liu on a collaborative piece as well. Along with the window decals, the Community Action Team is working on planning an Art Night to feature the artists in a public exhibition. Though the Art Night may be limited to residents for Covid safety reasons, the window decals will be visible to the public starting in late June, so keep an eye out for the work from our talented residents when you visit the neighborhood!
Art by Kristal De Marcos, Mitsuko De Marcos, and Setsuko Hayashi.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Returns to Help Residents with Taxes
The yearly chore—filing tax returns. LTSC wanted to help residents with this responsibility and again opened a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site in Little Tokyo and another in Echo Park. For the 2020 tax season, 7 trained volunteers assisted 266 tax filers with their returns enabling them to receive total refunds of $361,044. The adjusted gross income for our filers is around $20,000 so the average $1,700 refund is a big savings. In addition, the total earned income credit was over $109,000. “Our volunteers made sure our residents received all the refunds and credits they are entitled to,” said Gilda Hernandez, LTSC’s Neighborhood Services Coordinator. “Household budgets have been stretched so thin this year, every dollar helps.” LTSC would like to thank the dedicated VITA volunteers for their hard work helping families and seniors in need.
LTSC and FCTL Acquire Property in East LA
LTSC, along with other community development corporations, community groups and Enterprise Community Partners, is continuing to find new solutions to the affordable housing crisis in Los Angeles. One promising solution is countywide Community Land Trusts (CLTs.)
“Even though we don’t see many in LA, CLTs have been around since the late 1960’s,” said Debbie Chen, Director of Real Estate Development for LTSC. “They are another tool in our toolbox to further advance community control and address the growing need for affordable housing,” she explained. CLTs purchase affordable housing, maintain its long-term affordability and keep the property out of speculator’s hands. Seeing its potential, the County of LA passed a motion last year to dedicate approximately $14 million towards creating a CLT pilot project, which Debbie helped create.
Fideicomiso Comunitario Tierra Libre is a start-up Community Land Trust in East LA that LTSC has partnered with. “This partnership is aligned with our mission and vision,” said Eva Garcia Barrera, Co-President of Fideicomiso Comunitaro Tierra Libre. “We are excited to learn and grow through our partnership with LTSC.” Recently, LTSC acquired an 11-unit, multifamily apartment building in East LA – the first property of the CLT with FCTL.
LTSC will work with Eva and her team to make needed renovations and manage the property, with the goal of turning over full ownership in three years. “Without this partnership it would have been difficult to acquire a building because of our early stage of organizational development,” explained Eva. “This (project) represents our collective efforts to preserve affordable housing and prevent homelessness in LA County. We look forward to building a movement for community control of land and housing with LTSC.”
Teaching Seniors How to Zoom to Fight Social Isolation
Before March 2020 did you know what Zoom was? Maybe you remember the 1970’s children’s television show with the same name. As we all know now, Zoom has provided a safe way for people to meet online during COVID times. But not everyone knows how to use it. Seniors wanting to safely connect with their friends and family have been left out of this virtual marvel. But not to fear, Moto to the rescue! LTSC’s Far East Lounge Coordinator, Mototsugu “Moto” Sekiya, is helping seniors learn how to set up and use a Zoom account. “Many seniors have been socially isolated from their friends and family during the pandemic,” said Moto. “Even though there are many new ways to connect virtually, technology has been an obstacle,” he explained. So far, Moto has provided over 40 individual and group Zoom learning sessions allowing seniors to remain socially active while keeping safe. Thank you Moto for bridging the digital divide!
Keeping Our Seniors and Community Safe from Anti-Asian Violence
Though headlines around violence against the Asian community have seemed to slow down on the news, anti Asian violence still persists. LTSC has partnered with various community groups to address this issue and work to keep our community members safe. Through self defense education, bystander intervention training, and community building, we are determined to protect Little Tokyo from anti Asian hate. Click the link below for a copy of a safety tip sheet that we’ve developed with Keiro, and help us keep our seniors safe!
Welcome (Back) to Little Tokyo
With the vaccine rollout underway and restrictions loosening, it’s been great seeing people come back to Little Tokyo to eat, shop, and play! With that being said, please be mindful of others and try to practice social distancing as much as possible. The pandemic is not over yet, and we need everyone’s help to ensure the safety of our community. Please stay safe and healthy while visiting Little Tokyo!
Illustrations by Lisa Aihara
Uplifting our Residents’ Voices
LTSC engaged our Little Tokyo residents to discuss what they want to see at the upcoming First Street North development. With their input, we hope to address the community’s needs- an important step whenever we work on real estate projects
Students Learn About Asian Cultures
In celebration of AAPI Heritage Month, Mi CASA (LTSC’s after school program) focused on learning about various Asian cultures, while providing children a safe space to express themselves. The workshops covered topics like food and culture in South East Asia, origami activities, and anime. Using scenes from the animated movie, Fireflies, staff talked with students about how the scene made them feel, what could’ve been done to help the characters in this situation, themes of food insecurity, and shared with them resources that LTSC has to help support students with food insecurity or any other needs they may have.
In partnership with the Japanese Consulate General’s Office, LTSC hosted a workshop about Children’s Emotions/Behaviors, and how that can affect parents’ mental health. The past year has been difficult for children and parents alike, and the workshop offered parents a chance to join a discussion around wellness and how the pandemic has affected their wellbeing. The discussion was moderated by LTSC’s Jade Yamada, LCSW, who was joined by doctors Tomoya Hirota, MD, and Takeo Toyoshima, MD, who both work in the mental health field.
Special Thanks to the LA Galaxy!
In honor of AAPI Heritage Month, LA Galaxy staff and the team’s mascot, Cozmo, visited the Budokan to donate sports equipment and backpacks full of school supplies, as well as funds for LT Eats. Budokan was partially funded by a $100,000 grant from the AEG Community Foundation back in 2019. Thank you to the LA Galaxy and AEG Group for your continued support!
Sake on the Rocks Couch
LTSC’s annual Sake on the Rocks fundraiser is going VIRTUAL! Save the date so you don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind event!
This year’s event will feature a unique online platform, real-time mingling, live program elements, virtual experiences, sake tasting at home, and much more! More information coming soon: www.ltsc.org/sake
Camp Budokan- Youth Summer Sports Camp
Speaking Engagements by LTSC Staff Members
News Articles and Stories Featuring LTSC
For more articles and news stories featuring LTSC, visit the “In the News” section of our website HERE!
April 2021 Donors
Thank you to all our supporters for your contributions last month!
Add your name to the list by making a DONATION today.
Samantha de Castro
Jeffrey and Lorraine Dohzen
Liz and John Doomey
Ada and Rob Grace
Maya Hayashi and Michael Taila
Frank and Betty Hiji
The Paul S. Honda Foundation
Charlotte and Vince Matsudaira
Robert and Teresa Matsushima
Mike Murase and June Hibino
Debra Nakatomi and Bob Miyamoto
David and Mary Noguchi
John Okita and Michiko Yamamoto
PayPal Giving Fund
Glenn and Donna Sanada
Margaret and Ken Shimada +Friends
Grant Sunoo and Emily Mayeda
Kathy and Russell Tagawa
Kelly and Rintaro Takasu
Universal Music Group’s Task Force for Meaningful Change
Marsha and Gary Watanabe
Lesley and Russell Wong
In Honor of Robert Kuramoto
In Honor of Dave Mitani and family
John and Sally Mitani
In Honor of Ty Tanioka
In Honor of Mononique Tervalon
In Memory of Fred (Tadashi) Kato
In Memory of Delcey Kawasaki
Louis and Beatrice Danoff
In Memory of Keiko Kuida
In Memory of Dean Matsubayashi
Pauline Shirasu Griffith
In Memory of Mark M. Nakamura
In Memory of Mitsue Nishio
Steve and Patty Nagano
In Memory of Merrilynne Hamano Quon
Grant, Susan, Tim and Craig Shimizu
In Memory of Jeannette Kyoko Sanderson
Emily and Dan Weaver
In Memory of Kiyoshi and Chieko Shimokaji
In Memory of Mary Sayoko Tomiyama
Joyce and Randy Takahashi
In Memory of Henry (Hank) Yamada, D.D.S.
Irene Franklin, Naomi Gourley, Sadie Hifumi, Judy Payne, and Kitty Sankey
Akemi Arakaki and Takao Suzuki
Diane and Larry Jung
Jason and Rachelle Samson
Michael and Lilly Yanagita
Terasaki Budokan Memorial Gifts
In Memory of Delcey Kawasaki
MAMA’s Drive By Kitchen
Colleen Seto-Gee and Douglas Gee
Starbucks – 2nd & Central
Patrick and Gerrie Zvara
Walter Cabaya and Christina Osumi-Cabaya