Community Service – A Passing of the Torch at Project Dana

Community Service – A Passing of the Torch at Project Dana

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Cyndi Osajima (right) will succeed Rose Nakamura as executive director of Project Dana on Oct. 1. (Photo by Kevin Kawamoto)

Cyndi Osajima to Succeed Retiring Executive Director Rose Nakamura

Kevin Kawamoto
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

When Project Dana co-founder Shimeji Kanazawa was looking for a “trusted leader” to help fulfill her dream of establishing a caregiving program within Hawai‘i’s Buddhist community, she didn’t have to look much farther than across the kitchen of the Moiliili Hongwanji Mission, where she and longtime member Rose Nakamura were helping to prepare food for performers and volunteers at an obon event in July 1989.

Kanazawa, who passed away in April 2014 at the age of 98, reflected on that fateful encounter in Project Dana’s 25th anniversary booklet in 2014. Kanazawa died just months before the 25th anniversary celebration, but her written reflections were published in the program booklet.

“In a casual conversation,” Kanazawa wrote, “I asked Rose what she was planning to do with her time now that she had retired from the East-West Center. She responded that volunteering was at the top of her list.”

Kanazawa’s vision and Nakamura’s administrative capabilities became the genesis for Project Dana (pronounced DAH-nah), whose stated mission is to provide a “variety of support to the frail elderly, disabled persons and family caregivers, contributing toward their well-being, enabling them to enjoy continued independence with dignity in the environment of their choice.” And the mission would be carried out in the Buddhist tradition of Dana, the virtue of selfless giving and generosity without desire for recognition or reward.

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Anyone interested in volunteering for Project Dana should call (808) 945-3736 or e-mail projdana@hawaiiantel.net.

Kevin Y. Kawamoto is a longtime contributor to The Hawai‘i Herald and occasionally speaks at Project Dana gatherings.

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