Keiro was founded In 1961 by community leaders George Aratani, Edwin Hiroto, Kiyo Maruyama, James Mitsumori, Gongoro Nakamura, Frank Omatsu, Joseph Shinoda, and Fred Wada. Not pictured: Joseph Shinoda.

Keiro celebrated its 60th anniversary with a virtual event highlighting the organization’s history and vision for the future on Oct. 23.

The “Kanreki” celebration honored Keiro’s legacy —  including its eight founders, George Aratani, Edwin Hiroto, Kiyo Maruyama, James Mitsumori, Gongoro Nakamura, Frank Omatsu, Joseph Shinoda, and Fred Wada — and shared its renewed focus on the next generation and commitment to exploring a full spectrum of options for Baby Boomers, the next wave of older adults.

Reminiscing on the rich history, Sakaye Aratani, community stalwart leader and wife of the late founder George Aratani, shared on video, “During the 60 years, many wonderful accomplishments were made to bring happiness to the elderly and provide comfort for those who needed.”

Board Chair Lynn Miyamoto joined in reflecting on Keiro’s rich history of innovation and caring for older adults, and the organization’s journey to becoming the beacon of senior living. Miyamoto touched upon the many fond memories of Keiro’s history and the challenges and learning opportunities the organization has experienced, including the recent sale of the four former facilities.

“The Board of Directors and I regrettably didn’t handle the sale well, and in hindsight, realize we should have done better,” Miyamoto shared. “Going forward, we are committed to better engaging the community and our stakeholders in our future plans and decisions.”

In the years since, Keiro has sought input and advice from leaders and the community. Keiro conducted several focus groups throughout Southern California prior to the pandemic, to hear from Baby Boomers on how they want to age and continues to seek ways to involve the community in future decisions.

Sakaye Aratani offered congratulatory remarks.

Since the sale of the former facilities, Keiro transitioned to find multiple approaches to serving the community through grantmaking, partnerships, events, and educational programs.

In the virtual celebration, Iyashi Care, a partnership with Providence, was featured, highlighting their whole-person approach to caring for older adults and their families dealing with a serious health condition. The tradition of peace-of-mind in facility-based care has extended through this program now to be delivered to the broader community for those aging in place.

Looking to the future, Gene S. Kanamori, president and CEO, revealed Keiro’s vision for the future and the community, including Baby Boomer- and Millennial-focused programs.

 “As the next wave of us Baby Boomers age and look to Keiro, the need for a suite of services is important,” he said.

Many of the participants, like most Baby Boomers, shared their desire to age at home and not be a burden to their families.

“We are launching new caregiving initiatives focusing on our children’s generation, the Millennials, who will have to play a caregiving role for their parents’ generation,” Kanamori said.

He added, “We are looking to establish permanent roots in Little Tokyo and are exploring all options to serve the comprehensive needs of older adults including adult day programs, social services, and possibly senior living options. Innovative ideas like a health and wellness campus have surfaced to meet the future needs of our community.”  

Keiro emphasized their commitment to the community and highlighted the necessity to collaborate with partners to continue serving older adults. Kanamori shared that Keiro will continue its existing partnerships with organizations like Little Tokyo Service Center, Providence, Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, and Alzheimer’s Los Angeles, along with the dozens of community-based organizations that have worked with Keiro throughout the decades.

The 60th-anniverssary programming is available on Keiro’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/KeiroConnect

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