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Japanese-American Service Group Changes Priorities In Wake Of Disaster

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The Japanese Americans' Care Fund normally focuses on providing free services to the local Japanese-American Community -- this class helps elderly residents become computer literate.
Jonathan Wilson
The Japanese Americans' Care Fund normally focuses on providing free services to the local Japanese-American Community -- this class helps elderly residents become computer literate.

The Japanese Americans' Care Fund, based in Annandale, Va., serves more than 1,000 Japanese Americans each year.

It provides translation services, free legal advice, and free instructional classes like this one, aimed at senior citizens looking to become computer literate.

The organization only has an operating budget of about $12,000, and this week, in the wake of the disaster in Japan, Yo Kimura, a board member here, says the care fund has decided to send $10,000 of the budget to aid victims of the earthquake.

"We are frankly betting on the responses of the members to replenish that over the course of the year," Kimura says.

And counting on the group's members for donations is a big deal, since Kimura says most of elderly have little income, and membership in the Care Fund is free.

But Kimura says he started receiving dozens of calls immediately after the disaster from those same members -- wanting to give $10, $15 or $50 -- as much as they could afford.

"That was so moving -- this excitement carried me through this week I think," he says.

Kimura says some classes and services the Care Fund normally provides may have to be cancelled as the year progresses, but he says right now -- even though the mission of the Care Fund remains serving citizens here in the D.C. area -- giving back to Japan has to be the priority.

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