Most people living in Denver today probably don’t know the name Minoru Yasui. But the Japanese American community leader has left a legacy that still impacts the city.
I attended the annual Minoru Yasui Community Volunteer Awards luncheon on Dec. 1 and was pleasantly surprised to learn that the event had sold out all its 440 tickets. It’s a celebration held every December to honor the monthly recipients of the MYCVA awards, which are given to 11 people who work tirelessly to help the community as volunteers in non-profits or community organizations. Each recipient gets to choose their favorite charity to donate their $2000 award to, so there’s a powerful, positive ripple effect of the Min Yasui recognition.
Over the years, my wife Erin and I have known a handful of the recipients from Denver’s Asian community, and this year, two Japanese Americans were recipients: Mike Shibata, who’s volunteered with the Japanese American Community Graduation Program, which hands out a whole bunch of scholarships to deserving JA high schoolers (I was the recipient of one scholarship in the mid’70s when I graduated from Alameda High School); and Kimiko Side, who helped establish the Denver Sister Cities relationship with Takayama in Japan (it’s the oldest sister city partnership in Japan).
The other MYCVA recipients for 2010 are: