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Kawabe Memorial Grants Available

Tomo and Harry S. Kawabe

Kawabe Memorial Grants Available

SEATTLE, Washington – The Harry S. and Tomo Kawabe Memorial Fund Committee announces the availability of grants (usually $2,500 to $10,000) from the Kawabe Memorial Fund to local, qualified, non-profit, human service organizations devoted to the care of the indigent, children, and senior citizens. The fund also supports capital improvement projects for churches and scholarships to train teachers, priests, and ministers.

Applications and further instructions are available from www.bankofamerica.com/philanthropic/search-for-grants/. The next application deadline is Friday, March 12. Additional information is available from Jan Jacobs, Philanthropic Client Manager, Bank of America Private Bank, janet.jacobs@bofa.com, 206.358.0912.

Since its inception in 1971, the Kawabe Memorial Fund has supported more than 1,300 grant requests totaling over $5.1 million. Grants and scholarships awarded by the Kawabe Memorial Fund are directed by eleven committee members who live in the Seattle area. The committee meets three times a year to consider grant proposals.

In making this announcement, the Committee hopes to address what it perceives to be a lack of awareness of this funding source to human services organizations that tend to needs and concerns of the poor, of children, and of senior citizens of our community. The Committee likes to grant requests that address the basic vital needs of these citizens such as food, shelter, clothing, and medical and mental health care. If you are one of these organizations, the Committee welcomes the opportunity to work with you.

The Kawabe Memorial Fund was established in 1971 under the terms of the Last Will and Testament of Harry S. Kawabe. A former farm boy, houseboy, and cook, he emigrated in 1915 from Japan at the age of 25 as a laborer to work on the railroad construction boom in Alaska. He soon found an opportunity to work in the laundry business. He was able to transform his humble laundry into a business with established contracts with the Army, Navy, Alaska railroad and steamship companies, hotels, and hospitals. It later evolved into the most modern and largest laundry in the Territory of Alaska.

Mr. Kawabe also invested in real estate and dozens of businesses located in Seward, Alaska, including hotels, apartments, diners, bars, a hardware store, a barbershop, and a gold mine, and he established the Kawabe Gift Store and Alaska Furs.

This all came crashing down on December 7, 1941, when the United States entered World War II. Despite his record of achievements, Mr. Kawabe was not allowed U.S. citizenship due to federal anti-alien laws. He spent the next three years incarcerated in remote Dept. of Justice internment camps in Texas and New Mexico. Yet, Mr. Kawabe remained an enterprising leader and was an advocate and spokesman for his community. For example, in 1947 he singly represented Alaska at a San Francisco meeting to obtain Issei naturalization, alongside Seattle representatives Genji Mihara and Heiji Okuda.

Mr. Kawabe eventually moved to Seattle. He established a successful import/export business and continued to invest wisely in real estate.

In 1969, Mr. Kawabe founded Kawabe Memorial House, a project to provide affordable housing to the elderly. The 154-unit complex persists today in Seattle’s central area, where it provides senior housing and programs, as well as other amenities, and remains a vibrant part of the community.