The Venice Japanese Community Center, Inc. was introduced to me by a friend over ten years ago. Because of her, I am able to enjoy attending the programs provided.

Although there are board members and the necessary officials, most of the events such as registration, travel, programs held at the center, decoration of tables, etc., are handled by volunteers who do such a GREAT job. The volunteers take responsibility in their specialty. For example, a volunteer will purchase flowers, and/or choose other articles and decorate the tables.

The last event that I attended was a Santa Maria BBQ lunch, a popular event that takes place yearly. BBQ beef, chicken, garlic bread, potato salad and green salad are served. It is a hearty lunch. After lunch, bingo is played. Last year, I won $50 by winning the “blackout” on the bingo game. What a joy that was!

One-day trips are held, traveling to various places on a chartered bus. I went to a strawberry farm and returned home with three trays of fresh-picked strawberries, and to an apple farm, bringing home a large bag of Fuji apples. A visit to Nixon’s home in Yorba Linda was also a one-day trip. I enjoyed the musical “Cats” by going to a theater out of the city. Had it not been for the VJCC, I would not have had the opportunity to see “Cats,” which I have waited many, many years to see.

The center gives an opportunity to attend and/or choose different types of classes Sunday through Saturday. For example, one may learn the Japanese language, attend a craft workshop, learn  ballroom or line dancing, learn a different art style such as sumi-e, and learn to play an instrument such as the ukulele.

A monthly bingo night is held from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., and one may play bingo for cash. The “early bird” first game may be played for $75. One may purchase a bento at 5 p.m., courtesy of Boy Scout Troop 764, headquartered at VJCC.

There is a nutrition program where seniors may have lunch five days a week at a reasonable price and the food is nutritious. One can meet with friends and/or meet new friends and share a meal.

One of the main annual events is the celebration of Christmas. Every year those who are responsible do a remarkable job, making it an enjoyable afternoon. A delicious catered lunch is served. Those who perform are gifted and talented, making the program most entertaining.

At the annual Shinnen Enkai (New Year’s program), those who have met the Keiro qualifications and are 80 years old are honored. It was a wonderful feeling to have been one of the honorees and to receive a beautiful commendation from the City of Los Angeles, a lovely Japanese photo album and a program (booklet) prepared by Keiro for the day’s event. A delicious complimentary Japanese bento was served and enjoyed by all the honorees. A group picture of the honorees was also taken.

The above only touches the surface, but I am sure there are some other aspects of which I am not aware. I can, however, testify that the Venice Japanese Community Center, Inc. is very familiar to the Japanese community in Los Angeles and outlying areas such as Culver City, etc.

Best wishes to the Venice Japanese Community Center, Inc. in all its future endeavors.

A sincere Meow!

Maggie Ishino is a staff typist for The Rafu Shimpo. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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