LONG BEACH – Each year the Kimi Sugiyama Human Service Award is presented to individuals in the Grace First Presbyterian and Long Beach Japanese American community who exhibit “outstanding creativity and self-sacrifice in extending God’s love to others.”
This year, the award was given to Joyce Okazaki, a crucial voice in the education of Japanese American internment, and David and Stacy Rosales, pillars of the Grace First Presbyterian Church community.
The award was established in 2002 by the Sugiyama family to honor the work of Kimi Sugiyama. Throughout her life, she was a leader in the Japanese American community, using her knowledge of law to help Japanese workers and immigrants receive the rights they deserved, and founding what would be known today as the Long Beach Japanese Cultural Center. Her devotion to the community was filled with kindness and God’s grace. The Kimi Sugiyama Human Service Award reflects the presence of this devotion and altruism in the community today.
Joyce Okazaki works toward a future with greater justice and reflection as she shares her experiences with individuals and generations unfamiliar with the injustice that was the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Living through being incarcerated in Manzanar, and the aftermath of the U.S. government’s actions towards Japanese Americans, she transformed her experience into education, going on to become an outspoken, dedicated voice in the ongoing challenge of keeping history alive and inspiring younger generations to learn from mistakes of the past. Okazaki makes it her personal mission to reach out to individuals and organizations, speaking out about Japanese American concentration camps to make sure they use language that is accurate and respectful to the experience of Japanese Americans.
David and Stacy Rosales are vital members of the congregation at Grace First Presbyterian Church. Members since 1984, Grace First would not be the same without them. Stacy helps people wherever and whenever she can, assisting with childcare and memorial services alike, showing that God’s grace can reach us at all points in life. From haircuts to computer repair, David does it all. Always looking to serve, he takes care of the needs of countless people in the community that can often be overlooked. While David and Stacy dedicate much of their time to bettering the world for the people around them, they do so without seeking recognition – saying that God gives us talents to serve him, truly living into the dedication and altruism that the Kimi Sugiyama Human Service Award represents.
The award lives and breathes through the benevolence and faith of its recipients, who have dedicated themselves to bettering the community.