Sakaye Aratani Shares Her Thoughts on Keiro
There is a saying that “behind every great man is a great woman.” The eight founders of Keiro – George Aratani, Edwin Hiroto, Kiyoshi Maruyama, James Mitsumori, Gongoro Nakamura, Frank Omatsu, Joseph Shinoda, and Fred Wada – were successful in part because of the support of their wives, several of whom were significantly involved with Keiro. Below, Sakaye Aratani shares her thoughts and memories of Keiro, while Masako Wada talks about the origin of Keiro Retirement Home.
Keiro: Bringing Together Families and the Community
By Sakaye Aratani
When I reflect on what Keiro has meant to George and me, my heart is filled with gratitude and joyful memories. Keiro began by binding everyone together and today continues to bind families in the community.
I remember the early days when George shared his burden for the challenges many multi-generational Japanese American families faced. As younger couples went out to work to earn for their families, many elders were left alone at home. For older Japanese, being alone not only presented a concern for personal safety but also an unfulfilled longing for companionship and the cheer of others.
When the effort to secure funding for the purchase of the Jewish Home for the Aged [now the campus of Keiro Retirement Home and Keiro Intermediate Care Facility] began, everyone started to chip in. Some people even mortgaged their homes! At that time, George and Fred Wada began a series of trips to Japan to raise money from large companies where they had friends. I believe they raised quite a bit.
Now that Keiro is built, I can’t express how wonderful it really is. My mother was once admitted as a short term resident. She was only meant to be there a few months but was so happy with the care and camaraderie she didn’t want to leave.
Keiro means respect for elders. At Keiro, members of our community can grow older in a safe, caring place with familiar faces, food, and activities. Through The Institute for Healthy Aging at Keiro, we can all gain confidence and resources for a healthy life. Supporting Keiro is one of the best ways I believe we practice our care and respect for our valued elders.
I am proud and blessed to be associated with Keiro and look forward to fifty more years growing from strength to strength.
Read more Reflections on 50 Years.