Volunteer Newsletter- Spring 2022 (English) - Little Tokyo Service Center

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Volunteer Newsletter

Spring 2022 Issue

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Volunteer newsletter Spring 2022Welcome to the Spring issue of our quarterly volunteer newsletter!

Thank you for making a difference in the lives of our clients and residents and positively impacting the community. Volunteers are the heart of our organization and our work wouldn’t be possible without your support. Keep reading to see how LTSC volunteers created positive change!

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General LTSC Volunteers

Happy Volunteer Appreciation Month! LTSC is honored to have had such dedicated volunteer support throughout our 40+ years as an organization. Whether you have been working with us from the beginning, or have recently come onboard, your heart and hard work are so appreciated!

If you are part of a group or organization that would like to volunteer together, please reach out directly to datkinson@ltsc.org.

From January-March 2022, LTSC’s volunteers dedicated an incredible 1,043 hours of their time. Thank you for creating positive change!

Terasaki Budokan

Terasaki Budokan is a multipurpose sports and activities center in downtown LA providing youth, families, and seniors with sports leagues, community activities, and opportunities to connect visitors with the Japanese American culture and a vibrant, sustainable Little Tokyo.

On March 12, Terasaki Budokan opened its doors to a total of 2,300 people as we officially celebrated our Grand Opening with the public. Over 70 of those attendees were volunteers, largely from Little Tokyo Service Center, USC Day of SCervice, Yonsei Basketball Association, and the Little Tokyo community.

From setting up tents, tables and chairs the night before the event, to managing games and performances in the Gym and Stage, selling (OUT!) Japangeles merchandise, serving up delicious dishes with Kouraku and Azay, and acting as the smiling faces of Budokan, Grand Opening would not have been possible without our volunteers! Volunteer “superstars” include former Budokan staff, Curtis Takimoto and Nicole Oshima, who enthusiastically emceed the programming in the Gym and Stage throughout the entire day. Additionally, volunteers from the Yonsei 26 basketball team and USC’s alumni volunteer initiative, USC Day of Service, aided in providing amenities for all volunteers, performers, players, and programming participants.

Upcoming: Children’s Day Art Installation will take place on May 7th, 2022 and Straight Outta Little Tokyo will take place on June 18th, 2022.

budokan volunteers


Mi CASA is LTSC’s free after-school program for youth ages 6 to 18 years old supporting the physical, emotional and social health of youth in Little Tokyo and neighboring communities. 

Volunteers continue to be vital to the Mi CASA after school program each week. 10 volunteers support weekly workshops and engage with our youth. Workshops vary from hip hop dancing, to instrument building and arts and crafts. Volunteers also offer academic support in subjects like math, English and reading. We focus on sports on Fridays, with volunteers helping us set up equipment as well as playing sports like soccer, volleyball and tennis.

Look out for a book drive for Mi CASA coming up in May as well as summer program volunteer opportunities!

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

LTSC’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax preparation services for people with low to moderate income. 

In early February we launched our 7th season of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. The program provides free tax preparation services to people who generally make $58,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and limited English speaking taxpayers. Volunteers must complete a certification process set in place by the IRS prior to volunteering. Many of the volunteers at our site began studying in December in order to be ready to start in February.

Of the 8 volunteers that are currently participating, 2 are new to the program this year and the other 6 volunteers have at least 3 years volunteering with the program–2 have actually been volunteering since LTSC’s first season! In total, the 8 volunteers have contributed 189.25 hours of service and prepared close to 190 tax returns! We will be wrapping up the tax season by mid-April.

vita volunteers

Social Services

For over 20 years, one incredible volunteer has facilitated a Dementia Caregiver Support Group. It is currently held through zoom since the pandemic, but was previously in-person every 1st Saturday of the month. The participation has ranged from 5-15 people at a time.

Small Business Assistance

LTSC works with key partners to provide assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs in Little Tokyo and throughout Los Angeles County. Small business counselors based at LTSC offer resources for Little Tokyo and Nikkei businesses as well as other small businesses in LA County.

shopping bag graphic

We launched the ‘Love Little Tokyo’ monthly newsletter in January, a consumer education newsletter with updates from the LTSC Small Business Program about industry trends and how we can support entrepreneurs of color. Content focuses on Little Tokyo small businesses, but narratives will connect the neighborhood with the greater small business community around Los Angeles County and the OC.

It was very important to us that the information represented both data and anecdotal stories from our community of small business owners so we asked local Little Tokyo small business owners of Azay, Bunkado, CRFT by Maki for feedback on the first two newsletters. Having them involved in the process has not only validated the need for this newsletter, but has also provided valuable insight into how to best share small business information with the general public.

Upcoming: We are seeking volunteers to support a digital marketing campaign to celebrate 50 years of Suehiro Cafe history. We seek photographers, IG reel creators and copy writers interested in donating time to the program. We are also planning some small business workshops around financial projections and seek CPAs and bookkeepers willing to volunteer an hour of their time to present to small business owners on this topic.

Far East Lounge

Far East Lounge (FEL) is a multipurpose gathering space for seniors and others to connect and enjoy activities that promote wellness.

Due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in LA county in December and January, Far East Lounge paused programs from January through the beginning of February 2022. As the number of COVID-19 cases declined, FEL was able to resume all in-person activities at Budokan on February 14th. Our volunteers and senior participants rejoiced in a reunion with other participants after two months apart.

The Budokan held a grand opening ceremony on March 12. Our volunteers and participants also celebrated this community’s historical moment by participating in the opening event. 3 volunteers helped the FEL booth to distribute our program schedule and provided LTSC social services information to visitors. 12 ping-pong class participants joined the doubles tournament and interacted with visitors and community members while playing ping-pong.

FEL is going to add another exercise class with a new volunteer instructor starting in April. More information will be posted soon, so please look out for upcoming class updates!

FEL participants volunteering at the Budokan grand opening

Changing Tides

Changing Tides began in 2017 with a focus to end the stigma surrounding mental health in the Asian American community through outreach, education, and open conversations. 

Content Warning: Suicide

As Changing Tides has grown over the years, we have had numerous conversations with individuals in the community about mental health. While many of these conversations are about persisting through difficult mental health experiences, we also have heard the stories of mental illness becoming too difficult to overcome. Changing Tides is learning how to approach the topic of suicide so that we can be informed in how to reduce suicide in our community. While this is a large task at hand, our volunteers have stepped up to form a Suicide Prevention Committee, in which resources are pulled from different networks to see how our program can help prevent these situations.

Without our volunteers, we would still be figuring out where to start. Whether it be meeting as a committee or reaching out to individuals in their networks, our volunteers are helping us create new initiatives that can potentially save lives.

Look for an upcoming Suicide Prevention Walk event against suicide in the next few months!

South Bay

Located in Gardena, LTSC’s South Bay Office makes LTSC’s social services accessible to clients in the area, which is home to the largest concentration of Nikkei in the mainland U.S.

As the South Bay office is a satellite office of LTSC, we cannot function without these volunteers each Monday through Thursday. They cover the front desk, receiving calls, taking messages, and greeting any surprise visitors. They are the core members of the office!

JCI Gardens

Located in the South Bay, JCI Gardens is an affordable housing community for seniors. 

Volunteer Angie O. comes to JCIG twice a month. Lately, she has been attending our senior PE class. Angie is a bilingual Korean/English speaker and engages with the Korean speaking seniors.

LTT Food Bank Distribution

Starting as a pandemic relief program, these pantry boxes provide seniors with dry and canned good staples once a month. Five dedicated volunteers make the delivery of the 180-190 food pantry boxes possible each month! Thank you for all of the heavy lifting!


Nikkei Helpline

Since it was created in 1984, over 150,000 people have called the Nikkei Helpline for assistance with everything from immigration, education, and traffic accidents to illness, drug abuse, relationship crises and other emergencies. Currently, phone services are provided weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. NHL is a completely volunteer-run program.

Ryugakusei Hotline

The Ryugakusei Hotline (RHL) provides information and referral services to Japanese students living in the U.S. Trained volunteers help these students, who may be experiencing isolation, with an array of issues including: mental health, relationships, landlord-tenant matters, alcohol and drugs, auto accidents and immigration.

RHL is open from 10am-3:30 pm M/W/Th/F, and from 1:30-5pm on Tuesdays. Since the re-opening of the office, RHL has received more calls, many of whom were referred by the Consulate General of Japan. RHL is a completely volunteer-run program.

Volunteer Opportunities

Interested in upcoming volunteer opportunities? Check out our profile on Volunteer Match! Opportunities range from one-time event help to providing ongoing support for various programs.

Can’t volunteer, but would still like to support? Your donation creates positive change!

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