The James Irvine Japanese Garden at JACCC. (Rafu Shimpo photo)

“A Mid-Summer’s Eve in the Garden,” a reception fundraiser for Asian Rehabilitation Service Inc., will be held Friday, Aug. 31, at 6:30 p.m. in Garden Room A of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo.

ARS is the only workforce development non-profit in the U.S., focused on serving persons with disabilities, that operates simultaneously in about 10 languages – meeting the needs of Southern California’s highly diverse population.

Its philosophy: “We believe that working hand-in-hand with you, the community, we can achieve many things that enhance all of our lives and the well-being of the community as a whole.”

This after-work mixer will be an opportunity to meet ARS’ new CEO, Brad Bagasao, Ph.D. Also on hand will be the board: Donna Ogawa (chairperson), Benjamin J. Kim (vice chairperson), Leo Pandac (secretary), Jeong Joshua Yoon (treasurer), Kathryn D. Endo-Roberts, Jay Mitchael, Samuel Lee, and Alexander Sinclair.

Tickets are $50 per person. Donations are tax-deductible.

The event will include a small-plate buffet, music by Mia Yamamoto and Kawika Dacosco, an awards ceremony, a silent auction, and a bar.

Parking is available at 350 E. Second St. and 242 S. San Pedro St. Both locations are open until midnight and the cost is $5.

RSVP on Facebook or contact Carlos Ampuero at or Minji Kim at or (213) 743-9242.

About ARS

Asian Rehabilitation Service was founded in 1972 in Little Tokyo and for its first few years operated out of the basement at the old Union Church, which is now an arts center occupied by Visual Communications and East West Players.

ARS' recent activities include a beach clean-up.

ARS was started by Sachio Kano and Seigo Hayashi, who had a vision of enabling Asian Americans with disabilities to lead productive lives, rather than lives secluded at home and hidden from society. At that time, there were no such programs that could address the unique cultural and language needs of Asian American communities. So ARS began to take the disabled in the community out of seclusion and into the public.

While ARS has physically moved a few times over its 40 years, it is still located within easy reach of Little Tokyo (1701 E. Washington Blvd.) and remains faithful to its original mission of assisting persons with severe disabilities to achieve the maximum potential for gainful employment, independent living, and community integration.

ARS provides job preparation instruction, job skills training, job placement and support services for hundreds of older youth and adults each year.

Starting with a few developmentally disabled adults (persons with mental retardation, cerebral palsy, autism and epilepsy), ARS has expanded its work to include services for persons with physical, hearing, and mental health disabilities as well.

Most of its job skills training is in the areas of warehouse logistics, packaging and assembly, forklift operation, and custodial services.

In addition to the 28,000-square-foot facility where ARS has 65 clients each day for job preparation and work activities, ARS job coaches supervise 30 adults with developmental disabilities working at privately owned cosmetic companies and school supplies warehouses.

ARS has federal contracts by which it trains and employs approximately 45 persons with disabilities each year to clean four federal buildings in Los Angeles and Pasadena. In addition, its Job Developer Team receives referrals of 175 to 220 disabled adults per year from the California Department of Rehabilitation for job preparation, job placement, and counseling support to retain gainful employment.

The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities surveys the agency on an ongoing basis to ensure that it follows the highest current standards of practice in serving people with disabilities. ARS continues to innovate and to grow as it pursues its mission — helping people with severe disabilities, and their families, to achieve a higher measure of economic independence from public support and to reach the dream of full inclusion and acceptance.

Clients at work in ARS' 28,000-square-foot facility.

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