LTSCene – November 2018 – Positive Change Starts with You - Little Tokyo Service Center

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November 2018 Issue

November 6 Election: Positive Change Starts with You

Positive Change Starts with You

LTSC Key California Propositions

At LTSC, we strive to achieve “Positive Change for People and Places.” During the 2018 general election, Los Angeles County voters have the opportunity to create change on issues important to our mission and the communities we serve.

In addition to races for U.S. congressional candidates, governor and state offices, voters will cast ballots on state and local measures related to affordable housing construction (Proposition 1), funding for housing for people suffering from mental illness (Proposition 2) and rent control (Proposition 10).

The Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON) has published its November 2018 election voter guide—focused on initiatives that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. A3PCON is an umbrella coalition of service providers for the Asian and Pacific Islander community throughout LA County, and LTSC has been a member since its inception.

This is an election of huge importance to the country and our communities. We urge you to review the A3PCON guide, get informed and vote.

LTSC Pioneer Recognized for Excellence in Social Work

From left: California Social Welfare Archives President Esther Gillies, Yasuko Sakamoto and former LTSC Executive Director Bill Watanabe

For 36 years, Yasuko Sakamoto led LTSC’s social services staff, which provided innovative multilingual services to thousands of people. Last month, Yasuko was recognized for her dedication, innovative methods and leadership as she was inducted into the California Social Work Hall of Distinction.

The Hall of Distinction preserves the legacy of individuals who have made outstanding contributions to California social welfare and the social work profession. Inductees have “distinguished themselves by identifying a vision of how things could be better in our communities and pursuing that vision with consistent and concerted action for change.”

As founding director of LTSC’s Social Services Department, Yasuko designed and developed comprehensive programs to address the unique cultural needs of the Japanese and Nikkei populations. Her tireless efforts have made a lasting impact on LTSC and the communities we serve.

Bank of America Grant Supports LTSC Economic Mobility Projects

LTSC’s Casa Heiwa in Little Tokyo provides affordable housing for seniors and families

LTSC’s Casa Heiwa in Little Tokyo provides affordable housing for seniors and families.

LTSC is excited to share that it has been awarded a grant from Bank of America to address the pressing need for affordable housing in LA. With this support, LTSC will continue its work on five affordable housing projects with four partners to build over 400 units of housing. The housing will be developed in Little Tokyo, East Hollywood and the Arts District.

Through its affordable housing program, LTSC works with nonprofit partners to build housing that serves the most vulnerable individuals in LA, including families and seniors with low incomes. LTSC’s newest project is called the Santa Monica-Vermont Project. At 154 multifamily rental units, this is the largest affordable housing project LTSC has undertaken. When completed, it will provide much needed affordable housing in the East Hollywood community. The project is adjacent to the Vermont and Santa Monica Metro station and will include improvements to the bus shelters, bike storage areas and streetscape.

LTSC would like to thank Bank of America for its support and commitment to addressing LA’s affordable housing crisis.

A3M Luncheon Introduces Marrow Donor and Recipient

Marrow donor Vinh Tran and recipient Thien-Trung Duong

Marrow donor Vinh Tran and recipient Thien-Trung Duong

Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches (A3M), an affiliated program of LTSC, held its inaugural luncheon event on Oct. 14 at the Los Verdes Golf Court. The event’s highlight was a first ever meeting between marrow donor Vinh Tran and recipient Thien-Trung Duong.

Thien-Trung and his family have searched for a bone marrow donor for nearly a decade in hopes a transplant could cure his blood disorder thalassemia. After registering with A3M at California State University, Fullerton, donor Vinh was matched with Thien-Trung.

Uniting donors and recipients is always an exciting moment for A3M. Not only did Vinh and Thien-Trung immediately hit if off, so did their mothers. The two families greatly enjoyed getting to know one another.

LTSC Thanks AmeriCorps Intern

LTSC Thanks AmeriCorps Intern

From left: Director of Planning Grant Sunoo, LISC AmeriCorps Intern Mitsuko and Creative Strategies Producer Dominique Miller

LTSC would like to give a special thanks to our Local Initiatives Support Coalition (LISC) AmeriCorps intern Mitsuko Brooks for her time with our organization. Mitsuko graduated and completed her LISC AmeriCorps service as Community Arts Coordinator with LTSC on Oct. 15, far exceeding her goal of 1700 hours in 10 months.

Mitsuko met with community members and coordinated activations of 341 FSN, a collaborative and experimental space designed to explore community control and self-determination in Little Tokyo and at First Street North. LTSC owns and operates 341 FSN, which provides our +LAB project with a unique asset for promoting neighborhood and community engagement.

Additionally, Mitsuko supported Resident Services weekly at our Angelina Apartments affordable housing community with homework tutoring and field trips for the After School and Summer Program. Mitsuko said she felt tremendous support from +LAB and the entire LTSC staff and appreciated “finding-a-home” culturally for the first time in her life.

LTSC is happy to announce we are able to bring Mitsuko back for a second 10 month period as an AmeriCorps member, starting in November.

LTSC Hosts Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Entrepreneurship in Little Tokyo: Past, Present and Future

Entrepreneurship in Little Tokyo: Past, Present and Future

Meet our next 341 FSN Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Shoshi Watanabe on Friday, Nov. 16 from 6-9 p.m. in a pop-up photo exhibit and live podcast studio. Hollywood Fishbowl host, Jesse Koester will interview Shoshi, who is a ceramicist and small business owner.

This live audience podcast studio experience is part of a four day pop-up photo exhibit, featuring portraits of entrepreneurs that have received support from LTSC’s small business assistance program. Small Business Counselor Mariko Lochridge will be on-site to answer questions about the Small Business Assistance Program as well as the upcoming 341 FSN entrepreneurs-in-residence slated for December 2018-January 2019.  Please email Mariko at with any questions or media inquiries.

Learn more about our pop-up photo exhibit and podcast studio Entrepreneurship in Little Tokyo: Past, Present and Future.

Time to Make an IRA Donation

Time to Make an IRA Donation

IRA Donation

Did you know you can donate to LTSC directly from your IRA with a Qualified Charitable Distribution? It will count towards your Required Minimum Distribution and the money is not included in your income. No itemization necessary. No time like the present! Speak with your Financial Planner today for the details.

Calculate your minimum distribution here.

Shirai-Ferrante Quietly Leads Budokan Construction Project

Minako Shirai-Ferrante at the Budokan construction site

Minako Shirai-Ferrante at the Budokan construction site

The construction of Paul I. Terasaki Budokan–the big gym in Little Tokyo–began seven months ago with the demolition of two buildings on Los Angeles Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets. Now, excavation and shoring for the subterranean parking structure is almost complete.

According to Minako Shirai-Ferrante, LTSC’s real estate project manager assigned to Budokan, the work is progressing according to schedule and the project is expected to be complete by late 2019 with occupancy occuring in early 2020.

“Minako is probably least known to the public among the LTSC staff working on Budokan,” said Budokan Campaign Director Mike Murase. “But she plays a critical role in keeping the physical construction moving forward.”

Minako has many years of experience in overseeing real estate projects, having managed a dozen affordable housing projects, including Casa Heiwa over 20 years ago. She also worked on the rehabilitation of the Far East building and Union Center for the Arts. “We are fortunate to have such an experienced and competent professional overseeing the construction,” added Murase.

Gruen Associates is the architect and Walton Construction Inc. is the general contractor for Budokan.

In the meantime, the Budokan capital campaign team has surpassed 91% of the fundraising goal of $33.8 million, the total project cost. But there is still a gap of $2.8 million that must be raised by the end of construction. Donations are being solicited. Please visit the Budokan website for details on the project and on how to give.

A Far East Lounge Story: Escaping Isolation

A Far East Lounge Story: Escaping Isolation

A Far East Lounge Story: Escaping Isolation

Like many older adults in our community, Debra was resistant to change. She maintained a small network of friends, but as some passed away, she became homebound. A shrinking social circle can lead to a decline in physical abilities – and vice versa, eventually leading to isolation. LTSC social worker Ryoko Nakamura says “Once people isolate themselves, it is very difficult to pull them out.”

Click here for the full story.

LTSC Staff Participates in “Purple Thursday”

LTSC Staff Participates in “Purple Thursday”

Purple Thursday

LTSC proudly participated in Purple Thursday last month in support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Purple Thursday honors victims and supports survivors of domestic violence. The awareness day was launched seven years ago by the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Green Tip

New recycle icon of Little Tokyo Service Center

Get ready for cooler temperatures by cleaning out or replacing your furnace filter.


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

October 2018 Donors

Elizabeth Burton
Jeffrey and Lorraine Dohzen
Eagle, Globerman and Kodama Foundation
Paul Jay Fukushima
Lori Gardea
Lisa Hasegawa
Maya Hayashi and Michael Taila
Mike Tanaka and Jill Ishida
Takahiro Ide
Lloyd and Tazuko Inui
Jessica Kanai
D.K. Kazahaya
Duk He Kim
Kelvin Lee
Gary and June Masada
Takeshi and Hiroko Matsumoto
Robert and Teresa Matsushima
Diana and Yoshi Matsushima
Linda and Richard Morioka
David and Mary Noguchi
Taeko Okada
George A. Okamoto Trust
Tadao Okui
Ken and Donna Ota
Lloyd Kajikawa and Silvina Rubinstein
Bradley and Allyson Sakai
Sam and Kuniko Shimoguchi
Cooke and Elaine Sunoo
Nikki Kealalio Sutton
Stephen Suzuki
Kazuko Takata
Julia Takeda
Mike Tanaka and Jill Ishida
Ty Tanioka
Keith Umemoto
Nolan Young
Ryoko and Yoshiro Yunouye

In Honor of Tom Sogi and CHAMPs
Thomas Koga

In Memory of Jeannette Kyoko Sanderson
Emily and Dan Weaver

In Memory of Kaye Shoda Ishida
Patricia Ishida-Witscher and John Witscher

Terasaki Budokan

Laura Blosser and Chris Argyros
Eagle, Globerman and Kodama Foundation
Janet Hiroshima
Miwako Hoshi
Shigeko Inaba
Scott Ito and Nan Lee
Glenn Kawafuchi
Chester Kido
Ken and Karen Kikkawa
Brent Mori and Jessie Kikuchi
Ford and Frances Kuramoto
Sharon and Allen Lee
Norman and Mardy Maehara
Ken and Priscilla Mui
Mike Murase and June Hibino
Shiro and Sachiko Nakagawa
Michael, Margie and Katherine Odanaka
George A. Okamoto Trust
Takashi and Beverly Oki
Mo and Charlene Ono
Ann Otoide
Bruce Saito
Spencer and Dawn Shimizu
Grant Sunoo and Emily Maeda
Nikki Kealalio Sutton
Akemi Arakaki
Chris Taga
Hiro Yamaguchi
Karen Yamamoto
Barbara Yamamoto

In Honor of The Terasaki Family
Shapiro Family Charitable Foundation

In Memory of Victor Toyota

In Memory of Ansho Uchima
Ray and Estela Uchima

In-kind Donations

Adina Mori-Holt and Whitman Holt
Lily Tsurumaki
Marsha and Gary Watanabe

Vehicle Donations

Yoshihiko Irie
Bruce Iwasaki and Evelyn Yoshimura
Sharlene Takahashi

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