Retired nonprofit employee serving San Jose Japantown seniors

ByLia Mimun KGO logo
Friday, May 31, 2024
Retired non-profit employee serving San Jose Japantown seniors
When Julie Hubbard retired from her position at the Yu-Ai Kai Japanese American Senior Center, she knew there was more work to be done. Now, five years after her official retirement, she continues to serve the seniors of San Jose Japantown as a volunteer.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For over 50 years, Yu-Ai Kai Senior Center has served the elders of San Jose's Japantown. Julie Hubbard, former activities director and current volunteer, has been a pillar of the center for two decades.

Hubbard first joined the center as the activities director in 2006. After working in the aerospace industry, she decided to return to school and pursue a career in public service. After she graduated, she applied for a position with Yu-Ai Kai.

Yu-Ai Kai provides a wide range of services for the seniors of San Jose's Japantown, including exercise classes, support groups for caregivers, social services, a grief support group, an in-house lunch program, and a senior day service. They currently serve over 2,000 seniors.

Thinking back to her time as an employee at the center, Hubbard said, "I realized early on that in order for this organization to flourish and continue, we really depend on our volunteers. So when I retired, I knew I would come back."

"I retired on a Friday, and I woke up on Monday, and I was so used to looking at work emails, Hubbard continued. "I only had my own emails to look at, and I was done in five minutes, and I knew I was in trouble. I needed to do something else. I felt I still had life in me."

Jennifer Masuda, the center's executive director, describes Yu-Ai Kai as the heart of San Jose Japantown. "It couldn't operate without their volunteers, who collectively serve 13,000 hours each year," Masuda said. "I think there's so many volunteers here that have so much heart, and they all give back in such great ways - here's Julie, who used to work for us, and look at her. She can't stay away. And how lucky for us."

Yu-Ai Kai's work is particularly important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Masuda noted, "I think we're seeing the effects of isolation. On the flip side of that (the center is) actually offering socialization, getting them to be mobile, getting into exercise, getting them to use their minds."

Reflecting on her experience with the seniors at Yu-Ai Kai, Hubbard said, "We're just so lucky to have this center. Hopefully... this center will still be around for me and my friends."

To support Yu-Ai Kai, visit their website for information on how to volunteer, attend open community events, or contribute to their dollar-for-dollar donation campaign.

To see more ABC7 Allies in Action, visit here.

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