150993311 - los angeles, california – october 11, 2019: japanese village plaza

Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) is gearing up to celebrate four decades of operation with a virtual gala this October.

Traditionally, LTSC celebrates its anniversary with a formal gala every five years. But this year’s celebration, set for 6 p.m. October 10, was forced to move online due to COVID-19.

“There has never been a more important time to support Little Tokyo and the community,” said Erich Nakano, executive director of LTSC. “The gala is an exciting event that brings together people who genuinely want to make a difference.”

“We face greater challenges in these coming post-pandemic years, especially our most vulnerable populations—low-income families, the elderly and those experiencing homelessness. Little Tokyo Service Center will work to provide services and programs, build affordable housing and create new initiatives.”

The gala’s theme is Better Together, celebrating the spirit of collaboration that fortifies LTSC’s work.

A social service and community development organization that has been creating positive change for the people and places in Southern California for 40 years, LTSC preserves and strengthens the unique ethnic communities of the region where people, culture and collective future matter—starting with its home in Little Tokyo, their website states.

For the event, guests can send a virtual toast, sit at the virtual honoree table or send a written tribute message. There will even be a silent auction.

The program is slated to include musical entertainment and special appearances, including June Kuramoto of the band Hiroshima.

A salute to longtime LTSC board member Alan Nishio, an educator and community activist, is also planned. Nishio’s commitment to social change resulted in a lifetime of activism and community service. 

Hilda Solis, who represents the first district on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, will be recognized for her compassion for the people in her district and her support of LTSC programs.

And last, LTSC will present a special tribute to late Executive Director Dean Matsubayashi, whose passion and creative intellect continue to inspire the organization’s work.

The overall idea of the gala, however, is to highlight LTSC’s diverse programs and share its vision, which builds on decades of supporting seniors, preserving Little Tokyo, nurturing families and building community. The diverse programs include case management, mental health services, caregivers for the elderly, affordable housing and, during the coronavirus pandemic, hot meals for seniors.

“After the coronavirus, and once people are able to gather again, the Little Tokyo Service Center will be a great venue for community events and services for local residents,” Nakano said. “In the meantime, we’ve been pretty heavily engaged in the last several months and in the foreseeable future with COVID relief efforts.”

“That includes delivering over 5,000 hot meals to seniors in Little Tokyo over the last three months. We’re also delivering groceries and fresh produce to a lot of the residents of our affordable housing building. We have an emergency cash-assistance fund to be able to help people who have lost their jobs, in particular, to help people pay their rent.”

“A lot of our other services have generally happened virtually over the last period of time. We do hope that those kinds of activities will be able to happen in person.”

Attendees are encouraged to register for free before October 1 to be entered to win a Little Tokyo gift card bundle valued at $100. Gift cards include Cafe Dolce, Sake Dojo, Fugetsu-Do Bakery Shop, Bunkado, Rafu Bussan and Mitsuru Cafe.

Sponsorship opportunities are available at different levels, with sponsors including Aratani Foundation, City National Bank, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Barker Management, MUFG Union Bank, Keith & Cecelia Terasaki Family Foundation, Walton Construction Inc., JPMorgan Chase, NeighborWorks, Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco and Genesis LA.

For more information, or to register or claim a sponsorship level, visit ltsc.org/40thanniversary.