Downey woman earns award for volunteerism

From left: Barbara Lai; Amy Tsubokawa, president of the Long Beach Japanese Cultural Center; Randy Tubbs; and Reverend Patrick Thompson of Grace First Presbyterian Church.

From left: Barbara Lai; Amy Tsubokawa, president of the Long Beach Japanese Cultural Center; Randy Tubbs; and Reverend Patrick Thompson of Grace First Presbyterian Church.

DOWNEY – Downey resident Barbara Lai has been announced as a 2015 recipient of the Sugiyama Human Service Award. The recognition is named after the late Kimi Sugiyama, who used her law training and language skills on behalf of Japanese workers, advocating for labor and human rights to Japanese immigrants.

The award is given annually by Sugiyama’s family in recognition of “outstanding creativity and self-sacrifice in extending God’s love to others.”

Lai is a member of Grace First Presbyterian Church in Long Beach, where she is involved in numerous lead roles and committees, including participation on mission trips to Mexico; the annual CROP Walk; co-chair of the Megumi Kai Ministry; spearheading the Alternative Christmas Market; serving as a choir member and liturgist; fellowship server; and teacher at vacation bible school.

She currently serves as an elder on session, the governing group of the church. Most recently, she served on the interim pastor nominating committee, a time-consuming process that successfully culminated in the hiring of the church’s current pastor.

Lai also volunteers annually to help serve at the Long Beach Japanese Cultural Center’s annual fundraising festival.

As a speech and language therapist, Lai has worked for both the Downey Unified School District and Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District, retiring from Gallatin Elementary after 20 years of service there.

A former Girl Scout, she and her husband served as foster parents to a special needs child since infancy.

The second recipient of the Sugiyama Human Service Award was Randy Tubbs, a Long Beach resident who also is active with Grace First Presbyterian Church in Long Beach.

 

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Published: Feb. 12, 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 44