The Japanese American National Museum is lucky enough to have a group of very dedicated volunteers supporting the institution every day by helping our visitors in the galleries, leading tours for thousands of school children, and at public programs; and behind-the-scenes with our archives, store, web, and other areas. Each volunteer cheerfully does their part to support the National Museum.
We celebrate the contributions of our volunteers each year at the Volunteer Recognition Awards. On May 18, 2013, we honored several volunteers who went that extra mile in 2012. It was a tough choice. In January through December of 2012, National Museum Volunteers contributed a total of 34,500 hours! Ten volunteers alone each clocked over 500 hours of service in 2012.
At the event, we make an effort to appreciate all of our volunteers, whether they’ve been with us for one year or twenty-five.
One Year Volunteer Service Pins were given to Peter Fuster, Kyle Honma, Galaxy Kaji, Russell Kitagawa, Oko Sakata, and Sally Yamada.
Five Year pins went to Tami Hirai, Nana Imaizumi, Roy Kakuda, Frank Omatsu, Fujiko Takeda, and Mary Yamasaki.
Ten Year pins were given to John Kawasaki, Leland Kurisu, Yuri Matsunaga, Nobuko Shiokari, Jeanne Sultan, James Uyeda, and Midori Uyeda.
For fifteen years of service, we awarded pins to May Fujino, Kathryn Madara, and Eleanor Minami.
Twenty Year pins went to Linda Fujioka, Jean Hamamoto, Grace Hatae, Bambi Horiuchi, Joyce Inouye, Sumi Iwasaki, Barbara Keimi, Ruthie Kitagawa, and Sadako Sogioka.
Finally, for an astounding Twenty-Five years of service, pins were awarded to Joe and Marion Wada!
Next, Outstanding Volunteer Awards were given to those who have gone above and beyond in their dedication to the National Museum.
Administration Award: Outstanding service & achievement in administrative/operational capacity
Lauren Nakasuji has been an asset to the Museum store since 1998, volunteering at least twice a month alongside her full-time “regular” job. In addition to working at the store sales table for public programs and taking a vacation day to help with the annual store inventory, she trains new staff and volunteers.
Community Award: Outstanding service & achievement in working with the public and in the community
Ken Nakagawa has spent many Saturdays in the Hirasaki National Resource Center and has assisted in scheduling and training new volunteers to assist our visitors. While working in the resource center, he helps visitors find information such as camp and immigration records.
Program Award: Outstanding service & achievement in educating our visitors
Saturday lead docent volunteer Tsuneo “T” Takasugi has been a Museum volunteer for over 12 years. He has shown great dedication to volunteering—even coming in after performing surgery all night on several occasions.
Miki Tanimura Outstanding Volunteer Award: Established to honor outstanding volunteers who have made exceptional contributions to the National Museum
Finally, the Miki Tanimura Award is given to a volunteer who exemplifies several values, including enduring commitment and leadership. These award winners have changed the museum for the better.
Roy Sakamoto is one such difference maker. Since he began volunteering in 2005, he has dedicated over 250 hours per year to his work at the Museum in many different areas. He volunteers every Wednesday and Saturday as a docent in addition to training new volunteers as a Docent Coach, a program vital to the Museum. Roy has served as the Chair of the Volunteer Leadership Council and also helps teach the Japanese American history training courses, alongside countless other activities. It is this willingness to always help out and his knack for problem solving that make Roy an asset to the Museum.
Congratulations to all of our winners, and thank you again to all of the volunteers who make this Museum special!
Photos courtesy of Russell Kitagawa & Tsuneo Takasugi