It’s been an incredible experience

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


Sanboen Akita Welcome Party, September 1st, 2012

Akita welcomed 30 new JETs to the prefecture and held the annual Welcome Party to celebrate their arrival. Sanboen Cabin broke its previous attendance record, with the highest number now topping at 87 fantastic people. Individual performers, DJs, and the ALT Super Band played an assortment of music that kept everyone dancing late into the night. Of course, the taco rice was also a highlight, with rice cookers decorating the cabin with their pearlescent glow. We raised ¥170,000, another new record for the vA events!

Our biggest thanks to Alex, Clarissa, and the kitchen crew for working so hard on the amazing taco rice, Todd for another outstanding evening of alcohol and bartender services, and to Wil for planning another amazing event. Also, a huge thanks to our excellent performers and DJs!

The next event will be hosted by AAJ, another volunteer group in Akita that is raising money to build a library in Laos. We look forward to seeing you all there!

– KK and Jon

volunteerAKITA Transition Update

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

Ski Trip Fundraiser

In order to raise funds for our Scholarship fund we are running a charity Ski trip in Shizukuishi. But first we will be going to Mishuku Nakagawa, participating in a cultural activity, and then feasting on local tradition foods called “Jukko dishes” while washing it down with doburoku (home made sake). The owner of Mishuku Nakagawa, Mr. Nakagawa, is one of the few licensed producers of doburoku in all of Japan. His doburoku is called “Ichi no Shizuku” (一の雫). The schedule is outlined below:

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012
13:30 ~ Meet at Minshuku Nakagawa (174 Shinogawara Nagayama, Shizukuishi, Iwate)
14:00 ~ Cultural activity; making homemade yogurt and mochi
16:00 ~ Free time (buy doburoku, visit one of the local AMAZING onsens, chill)
18:00 ~ Feast like Kings and Queens on local Jukko dishes while downing copious amounts of doburoku and various other drinks!
21:00 ~ Spend the night

Saturday, March 4th, 2012
7:30 ~ Delicious breakfast
9:30 ~ Arrive at Shizukuishi Ski Jo and enjoy all the powder Iwate has to offer!! (ticket valid until 4pm)
13:30 ~ When finished on the mountain you can enjoy a complimentary onsen at the Prince Hotel (at the base of the ski jo)

Up to 30 members can attend this event. (Currently we have 12 signed up)
Cost: ¥10,000 (includes cultural activity, dinner, loads of drinks including doburoku, accommodation, all day ski pass at Shizukuishi Ski Jo, onsen ticket)

This is an open event, so please forward it to anyone you think may be interested in attending.

Also check out our Facebook page