SACRAMENTO – Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento) issued the following statement on May 5 after the passing of Yasushi “Chewy” Ito, founder of ACC (Asian Community Center) Senior Services and Sacramento community icon.

Yasushi “Chewy” Ito in 2015. (Photo by Lorna Fong)

“Sacramento has lost a wonderful person and tireless advocate for our community with the passing of my dear friend Chewy Ito. Chewy had a positive light that emanated from him – he always dreamed big and had an unwavering belief in Sacramento to come through.

“And while he will be remembered for the impact he had on Sacramento’s seniors and the wonderful legacy that he cultivated at ACC, I will always remember his kindness and cherish our friendship. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Ito family during this difficult time. Chewy will truly be missed.”

Derrick Lam, president and CEO of ACC Senior Services, made the following announcement on May 3: “Chewy Ito, founder of ACC in 1972, passed away peacefully at 2:00 a.m. today at Maple Tree Village Assisted Living.

“Chewy’s tremendous work of over 30 years at ACC deemed him ‘Boss’ at the organization. He served as president of ACC’s Board of Directors for 19 of our formative years and was very active in the organization’s growth and sustainability. He was honored at ACC as a 20-Year Hall of Famer for helping to build programs and services that provide a better quality of life for older adults in the community.

“In 1982, KOVR-TV and American Institute for Public Service in Washington, D.C., honored him with the Jefferson Award for building a better community in Sacramento …

“Chewy’s strong community relationships directly benefited the success of ACC. When the community needed change, he stepped up to foster belief in others and put their ideas into action. During his presidency at ACC, he initiated three nutrition sites serving Japanese- and Chinese-speaking elderly, recreation classes for seniors, English classes for newcomers, bilingual information and referrals, employment training programs for all, health screening programs for low-income youth, and the ACC Nursing Home.

“ACC Nursing Home, now known as ACC Care Center, began as a simple idea with complex beliefs. ‘We don’t need that!’ These words were very familiar to Chewy when he started his quest to launch a project that would build a long-term nursing facility for Asians in Sacramento. During the early 1970s, no long-term nursing facility existed specific to the needs of the Asian elderly. The biggest challenge was cultivating a belief in the Asian community that this project was necessary.

“Chewy began building relationships with other community leaders and brought together different ethnic groups with little experience working together to achieve community goals. The ACC Nursing Home project enabled these groups to provide a voice and to build relationships that would last far beyond the Nursing Home’s eventual construction in 1987.

“Chewy always encouraged volunteerism among his peers and helped push forward ACC’s programs and services. During the ACC Rides Transportation Service launch, he recruited 12 volunteer drivers and escorts to provide older adults an opportunity to sustain their independence and lifestyles until now.

“We will all miss Chewy for his unwavering leadership, fostering a belief in others and putting their ideas into action when the community needed change, and initiating services at ACC to help older adults sustain their independence and lifestyle in Sacramento.

“We will pay a special tribute to Chewy during our telethon on May 6.”

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