During a recent conversation with my friend Emi Kiyota, she mentioned that it would be a good neighborhood team project for elders in US nursing homes to send messages of hope and support to those in Japanese homes affected by the recent earthquake. I am happy to say that St. John’s Home is taking on the project.
There is no question that the devastation is extensive and the economic needs are great. So what can frail elders contribute? Many things.
Elders in the US and Japan have a shared history, in both war and peace. Furthermore, they understand what it is like to be institutionalized, to be dependent on others, to feel the pain of so many previous losses with this new one. And the they understand the power of community in times of need.
Japanese elders know that a paper crane is not an easy thing to make (as I learned myself this week). That is why 1000 cranes are viewed as such a strong symbol of goodwill. This month, dozens of St. John’s elders, staff and volunteers are making messages of hope–1000 cranes, plus cards, photos, and other tokens of love and support–to send to elders in Japan. For those who have no money to give and no ability to provide hands-on help, this is an incredibly meaningful gesture for those who live in a world where meaningful engagement can be difficult to maintain.
We will also be having a fundraiser in late May, when Emi comes to Rochester to visit. For those who wish to make monetary donations to Japan relief, there is a foundation that sends 100% of the money they receive to relief efforts: The Japan Society Foundation