The Japan earthquake tragedy has a very personal connection for Naomi Ewing, director of college counseling at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest.
Emi Yamazaki is a close family friend of Naomi's mother, both of whom live in New Jersey. Emi's niece was living in Otsuchi, Japan, on March 11, 2011, the day the earthquake and tsunami struck this small village in the northern part of the country.
Emi's sister, mother, brother-in-law, and his wife all perished in the tsunami. Emi's niece, Yuiko Yamazaki, survived by climbing out a car window after being swept out to sea.
Following catastrophic devastation and tremendous human loss, enormous challenges remain for this small coastal community.
Goal III of Sacred Heart Goals and Criteria: Schools of the Sacred Heart commit themselves to educate to a social awareness which impels to action. Action it is that the students of Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart are taking to respond to friends of Naomi Ewing's family and to help rebuild the Otsuchi school system.
On Thursday, Oct. 27, under the student leadership of Catherine Wanandi, Woodlands Academy is sponsoring a fundraiser called Relief for Japan. An Asian menu prepared by Netty Wanandi, Catherine's mother, and her culinary crew begins this family-friendly evening of community dinner followed by a student talent show.
Some 250 guests will enjoy a delicious dinner, the company of one another's families, and the performance talents of gregarious and imaginative Woodlands students.
Wanandi, a senior, contacted businesses and friends of the school soliciting donations for this cause, and she emailed a PowerPoint presentation to potential donors to encourage their support.
She is pleased that her efforts have been fruitful and the response has been extraordinary. Relief for Japan has already received more than $16,000 in donations -- and these come from Asia and from around the country, as well as locally.
The surprise highlight of the evening will be a personal thank you from Emi Yamazaki and from Naomi's parents, Toshio and Yoshiko Tsuzuki, all three of whom are flying in from New Jersey to express their deep gratitude to Woodlands Academy for the school's support of the Otsuchi community.
While the Community Dinner and Talent Show event is open to Woodlands families only, Relief for Japan welcomes donations from anyone concerned about this important cause.
The town of Otsuchi was profiled recently in a "60 Minutes" segment titled, "Sister Cities After the Tsunami." Scenes of pre- and post-tsumani Otsuchi are included, and the segment is available for viewing on the program's website.
For more information about Woodlands Academy, call (847) 234-4300.