Four years ago, volunteerAKITA opened its doors in order to help bring relief to the Tohoku area devestated by the March 11 disasters. We’ve had an unbelievable time doing whatever we could to assist those in need. With our directors moving on to another country this coming April, it is time to officially close the book on volunteerAKITA.
From our initial initiatives, The Fruit Tree Project and The Big Clean, volunteerAKITA was proud to provide a way for people in the Tohoku area to support each other. The buzzword of that year was “kizuna” (絆) which means “bonds” and while we helped promote that idea, we truly felt it in our hearts. The volunteerAKITA Scholarship Fund and FAIR Takata continued our mission to provide assistance in the recovery process. As an organization, volunteerAKITA has touched the lives of both the people we have helped and the volunteers who selflessly gave up their time, money, and energy to give back to the Japanese community that we have called our home. KK and I could not be happier or prouder of what we accomplished during the last four years, and we want to thank everyone who has lent us their help in anyway.
We’d especially like to thank the founders of volunteerAKITA, Paul Yoo and Minami Ishikawa. Without their “can do” spirit, volunteerAKITA would not have existed at all. We’d also like to thank Andy Anderson and the Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund for all of their support and strength despite such tragic circumstances. To Smile Kids Japan and Michael Maher-King we owe a great deal of gratitude for connecting us with orphanages in need around the Tohoku area. To Amya Miller and the city staff at Rikuzentakata, we are so happy that you invited us to your city to put on such a fun event. We hope the good memories and feelings from that day continue to spread throughout the city. Finally, to all the wonderful volunteers that helped make volunteerAKITA happen, we can’t thank you enough. Todd, Owen, Michiko, Randy, Melissa, Jeff, Anne, Alicia, Ryan and everyone else who volunteered their time or came out to our events, KK and I truly appreciate what you have done, we will never forget, and the people of Tohoku will never forget you, thank you.
The relief efforts are not over yet for Tohoku, thousands of people are still dealing with the disaster and we won’t stop supporting them even though we are leaving Japan. Please continue to think of Tohoku and those who were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. Our hearts go out to each of you and we will always be looking for ways to help Tohoku and Japan in the future.
Thank you again.
KK Miller and Jon Hui
Co-Directors of volunteerAKITA
After over a year of volunteering and relief efforts with support from people all around the world, volunteerAKITA, under the outstanding leadership and direction of Paul and Minami, is pleased to welcome two new directors, Jon and KK. They hope to drive volunteerAKITA to the next level building upon the ideas and foundations achieved by Paul and Minami. Jon has been working in the background for volunteerAKITA, responsible for the website and media logistics. KK joined immediately after beginning work in Japan and has not stopped in her endeavors to make volunteerAKITA even greater. Under their direction, volunteerAKITA will continue to provide both volunteer opportunities and donations to affected areas of the Great Tohoku Earthquake of 2011 as well as creating new projects to foster greater internationalism between Japan and the world. All of us at volunteerAKITA would like to thank Paul and Minami for setting the right tone and energy when starting volunteerAKITA and for the absolutely amazing things they have done for anyone affected by the disasters. We wish them the very best, and hope that their new adventures are the most fantastic yet.
Now a word from the two new directors, Jon and KK.
From the beginning volunteerAKITA has seen an amazing amount of support, volunteering and donations from the people in Akita and also from people living around the world. With the conclusion of the Fruit Tree Project and non-specialized volunteer opportunities dwindling, volunteerAKITA looked to provided a scholarship to an orphan living in Sendai, Japan. With the generous donations from people around the world, we successfully raised enough money to support this orphan in going to university. Again, to everyone who has helped us thus far, we send to you a heart-felt and greatly deserved thank you!
Now, volunteerAKITA is pleased to announce its newest project for the future. The first is to create a permanent scholarship fund for orphans in Tohoku wishing to attend university. The scholarship would be of varying amounts from as low as ￥100,000 with the potential for renewal of the scholarship upon successful completion of the previous academic year. We will be looking to reach out to more orphanages in the Tohoku area to spread the word of a bursary they can apply for. Look for our proposal in the near future.
VolunteerAKITA was born from the desire to “get out and volunteer”. In order to continue these goals our second project is to establish a routine, monthly visitation opportunity to orphanages in Akita. We, along with other JETs in Akita, spent a fantastic morning making crafts and capes for a dozen children at an orphanage in early July. The director’s eyes sparkled when we asked if we could come again and happily suggested that maybe next time we could sing English songs. More detailed information about the date of the next visit will be made shortly.
Again, thank you to everyone who has helped volunteerAKITA thus far and we look forward to all our opportunities together in the future!
– Jon and KK
October 15, 2011 – The Save Minamisoma Project has been delivering supplies to folks in Fukushima-ken who are still recovering from the tsunami as well as radiation threats. They have been working tirelessly to deliver supplies to the temporary housing units, and volunteerAKITA/The Fruit Tree Project is very happy to offer our support, and hope to continue working with them in the future.
For their last delivery, The Fruit Tree Project was able to purchase 1980 persimmons which were distributed to 4 different temporary housing neighborhoods! A BIG OTSUKARE to all the members of their team, and for all the hard work they continue to put into their mission. Please check them out at http://saveminamisoma.web.fc2.com and see a brief report from Michael Anop of the Save Minamisoma Project.
September 5, 2011 – A long but awesome day down in Ishinomaki with the Anderson family! It was so nice to finally meet them in person, and we are so glad they could come around with us today to see what The Fruit Tree Project is all about. We started loading fruit at about 9a.m. from Moriya Fruits, then started making our rounds to the shelters in the Ishinomaki area.
The shelter numbers have dropped significantly since we were last down there, but there are still so many people who haven’t made it out yet. As we approach the 6 month mark since the disaster, it really hits you hard to see the many people still living in shelters and uncertain about their future. We just really hope people in Japan and all over the world don’t forget about these people, and continue to help them get back on their feet.
It was definitely a long/busy day, but it felt so great to be back out in Ishinomaki, especially with the Andersons and Kat. We got to chat with so many people along the way, and also got to play with some kids in the afternoon, which is always fun! In total we delivered ~1,233 items of fruit to 16 shelters! Another BIG THANKS to the Andersons for everything they are doing for Japan right now, and for all the love and support they have given us! Also to the lovely Kat Sheu for everything she has done in the relief efforts, as well as volunteerAKITA. We will definitely miss her and wish her the best in the future!
All in all, it was a great day! We accomplished so much, and we definitely reached out to a lot of people, which is what’s most important.
September 6, 2011 – Yesterday was a bit hectic, so we were not able to deliver to Hirobuchi ES (a small shelter outside of central Ishinomaki). After an amazing reception/ceremony for Taylor’s Reading Corners, I stopped by Hirobuchi on the way back to Akita with enough fruit to last them through the week (2 huge watermelons, 150 mikans, and 48 pears!) The folks there are the sweetest people ever, and are always very grateful for our visits. We hope to get back there soon.
– Paul & Minami
While the summer months have been busy for us here in Akita, we have continued to get fruit out as much as possible, and are still collecting donations for The Fruit Tree Project! A BIG BIG BIG THANK YOU to JAPA DOG for their very generous donation and support! If you live in the Vancouver area, please do us a favor and stop by your local JAPA DOG for some tasty gourmet hot dogs (YUM)! www.japadog.com
To date, we have raised ￥1,811,671 ($23,571) and delivered ~38,612items of fruit! We also want to thank ALL of our supporters because none of this would be possible without your support and trust in our project and organization. It really means the world to us, and with your support we have reached out and helped so many people in Tohoku.
– the volunteerAKITA crew
July 23, 2011 – A big thanks to our awesome friend Kat down in Ishinomaki who has been helping us out HUGE and made a delivery to a smaller shelter near her apt. Kat delivered 50 peaches and 74 bananas to a shelter located outside of central Ishinomaki that has not been getting as much relief help as other shelters. We are glad to provide them with some fruit and appreciate Kat giving us a heads up on their situation out there. We look forward to getting back there soon and hope to continue helping them out as much as we can.
July 30, 2011 – With the summer months being so busy here in Akita, we have been doing our best to keep fruit moving into the communities. We are happy to be able to provide fruit for the LOVE KOGANEHAMA event which takes place every Saturday, and hope to continue supporting and providing fruit for them on a regular basis. This weekend, we supplied them with 962 bananas and 665 oranges. The event provides food and other relief supplies to about 300 people, and we definitely look forward to working with them in the future.
The Fruit Tree Project reaches the $20,000 mark! A big thanks to all of our supporters and donors. To date, we have raised ￥1,610,560 ($20,533) and delivered ~37,002 items of fruit!!! while the BIG CLEAN initiative has logged ~818 hours of volunteering!
As always you can take a closer look at our numbers right here.
There are still thousands of people living in shelters across Tohoku, and many are still eating the same food provided by the government on a daily basis. The need for fresh fruit is still very apparent in many of these cities and towns, therefore we plan to continue The Fruit Tree Project for as long as we can.
Besides our on going activities, we are now in full swing with the “Smiles & Dreams” project lead by LivingDreams/SmileKidsJapan. We are currently Home Communication Managers (HCMs) for 2 orphanages in the Sendai area, which means we will be in close contact with them to help provide any requests or needs they may have now or in the future. volunteerAKITA is excited to be involved in this project and a BIG THANKS to LivingDreams and SmileKidsJapan for giving us this opportunity and for doing such amazing things for orphans in Japan. Much Love.