No, this blog entry is not about the election. It’s about celebrating the achievements of organizations that threw great events. As publisher of two weekly newspapers and an observer at dozens of exciting — and some boring — community events in the last month, I hereby declare myself as the judge for some informal achievement awards.
“Where is he?” guests asked at Nikkei Concerns’ 35th anniversary. They were looking for Apolo Anton Ohno, who was listed as an ambassador on the invitation. Also listed (and absent) were Secretary Gary Locke and his wife, Mona.
Apolo was not there, only his dad. Read the fine print. It never said that Apolo or the Lockes would appear. Guests just presumed they’d be there.
Spirit of Generosity Award
Not only were they big donors for at least three events (Kin On Nursing Home, Nikkei Concerns, and the Seattle Chinese Gates fundraising dinner). Jerry and Charlene Lee actually helped in the process, including procuring and getting VIPs to the event. Also, Jeff Hattori, chief of Nikkei Concerns, pledged $10,000 for Nikkei. A big round of applause for folks who led by example and the many guests who pledged more than $125,000 to fund a garden for Seattle Keiro, a Japanese nursing home.
Best Food Award
Kin On Nursing Home served the most delicious meal, sea bass and steak, at its 25th anniversary celebration at the Bellevue Grand Hyatt Hotel. Both the fish and meat were moist and cooked just right. Second place goes to the Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS) for its dinner at the Bellevue Westin Hotel, with each course prepared according to recipes, ingredients, and cooking instructions of four celebrity chefs, Ngoan Nguyen, Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen, David Kong (these three are locals), and Sam Choy. This was not easy for the Bellevue Westin.
Most Entertaining Award
The ACRS annual gala at the Bellevue Westin Hotel gets the award for the most entertaining cooking show by Chef Sam Choy of Hawaii. The second place award belongs to the EriAm Sisters for their performance at the Refugee Women’s Alliance’s 25th anniversary at Benaroya Hall on Oct. 8.
Best Speaker Award
Jean Enersen, anchor of KING TV and emcee of our Pioneer Dinner on Oct. 1, deserves first place. Second goes to Fred Katayama, anchor for Reuters, who emceed the Nikkei Concerns’ dinner.
For the auctioneers, both David Silverman from Nikkei and Eric Mamroth from ACRS win.
Most charming speaker was rising star Kelly Miyahara, beating out Dow Constantine, Mike McGinn, and Mike Honda.
Best Volunteers Award
The number of volunteers for the Nikkei Concerns is astonishing. Just glance at the program. You will notice the numerous volunteers, from table captains to auction organizers to auction donors.
Most Moving Award
At the International Drop-In Center’s 38th anniversary at the Bellevue Westin Hotel, I was touched when President Eddie Abellera saluted all the Filipino American veterans on stage. It was a beautiful moment.
Best Time Management Award
I give this award to our own Asian American Pioneers Award. Thanks to Jean Enersen’s experience, our program ended at 8:30 p.m., ahead of schedule. Even though we had 13 honorees, she was the supreme master of ceremonies, making the program fun and smooth, also including surprises. Her sense of timing and punch lines were amazing.
Worst Time Management Award
This one goes to all those events that went overtime, from 15 minutes to an hour. And you know who you are!
Most Inspirational Award
The pouring, freezing rain did not discourage hundreds of people to join in the peace walk inspired by the 125th anniversary of the Chinese Expulsion Act in Tacoma on Oct. 30. Asian and non-Asian participants were determined to send a message that such history should not repeat itself, by retracing the route where the Chinese were pushed out on Nov. 1, 1885.
The destination was the gorgeous Chinese Reconciliation Park. I had not seen the park since its ground-breaking ceremony a few years ago. Three Tacoma mayors, past and present, were there. So were all the city council members. What unity in spirit! ♦