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  • Kelan Sato

My beloved, loving Grandfather, Grandpa Jerry

Dear Grandpa Jerry, 

You don’t know how much I miss you and your energy every day. How much I miss your smile and spirit. You lived a good life. You changed so many people’s lives for the better, especially those who are underserved and underprivileged. You made such an impact on the communities around you, and I love you so much. Thank you for everything. 

The Rev. Canon Jerry Shigaki was born on October 21, 1946 in Seattle, Washington. As a third-generation Japanese American born after his family’s incarceration during WWII in Minidoka, Idaho, he decided to spend his life working as a social worker and priest revolving around social justice. He was always striving for a more inclusive, just, and equitable society while also celebrating diversity. Working towards making a change in the world, especially increasing opportunities for those who are less advantaged.

After earning his master’s degree, he continued his work both professionally and personally, centered around service to others. Throughout the years, Jerry Shigaki served as a supply priest at many congregations across the US, while coordinating and supporting the development of many ethnic and multicultural congregations. 

I am inspired to be like him throughout my life. To shape communities and make this world a better space, especially for those who are suffering. Though it will take time for us to be able to live in a world without hate, racism, and discrimination, the first step is to take action and slowly we will be able to make a change.

As the current communications manager and head president of Garfield’s Asian Pacific Islander Student Union and Japanese Student Association, respectively, I strive to connect our communities closer together just like Grandpa did with his. To create a safe space where we are able to share and celebrate our cultures, thoughts, and ideas with each other. 

By participation in art and counseling programs through the Wing Luke and YouthCAN organizations, I am able to share and learn more about the AANHPI community with and from the world. We are the next generation of storytellers, leaders, and change makers. We need to stay strong and support each other for our beloved communities. I am so grateful to be able to have opportunities to write about untold Asian American stories and underrepresented communities as a High School Student in journalism. Through this magazine, the messenger at school, and my writing, I am able to share my community's voice. 

My grandpa was my biggest supporter - going to every one of my orchestra concerts, whether it be for Seattle Youth Symphony or school, and every single one of my tennis matches from practice matches to Metros. Every debate tournament he asks me how it went and if I had fun while congratulating me on every one of my achievements. Being able to teach, learn, and interact with people through all my communities makes me feel warm inside, as I feel like I am carrying his legacy with me. I aim to be like him: loving, supporting and caring. 

May he rest in peace. Thank you for everything you have done for me, and for others. Your legacy will live on forever. I will be taking your energy to continue to do what you did; To continue to help and inspire those around me; To help people succeed through their greatest challenges and hardships. You are the reason I decided to pursue this path of social justice, for I too want to make a change in the world. Through my writing, voice, actions and communities, I will be trying my hardest to make life better for those underprivileged and underserved. To continue your legacy. To continue to show the world that our communities, the BIPOC, AANHPI communities, deserve to be heard and deserve to not be shut down. You are awesome, grandpa, and I will forever miss you. 

Love you lots,

Your grandson, 

Kelan Sato 

Special thanks to my awesome and loving friends and family for helping me through these hard times. Love you all greatly.  

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