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Mitsui & Co. (U.S.A.), Inc.

Employee Volunteerism

New York

Marsh Planting with American Littoral Society

A spring Mitsui New York environmental care activity was begun last year, 1 June 2014, in Jamaica Bay, the largest intact estuarine ecosystem in New York City with more than 13,000 acres of water, salt marsh, meadowland, beaches, dunes, and upland woods in Brooklyn and Queens.

When the volunteers first started, Black Wall Marsh looked more like a sand bar than marshland… seen here being ferried by floating dock, from boat to marsh island, with some technicians arriving by kayak.

(Photo: ©2014 Gena Wirth and Eymund Diegel / Dredge Research Collaborative / Public Lab)

On Sunday 28 June 2015, the 2nd planting became somewhat of a race against the rising tide as Jamaica Bay rose around Mitsui New York employees and family members, Kaneka volunteers, and their tools and supplies.

(Photo: ©2015 Don Riepe, American Littoral Society)

All the Spartina sea grass plugs must be separated by hand and then disbursed by wheel barrel across the marsh island.
The volunteers work in tandem: planting rows are ruled off, holes are dug, and sea grass plugs are inserted, covered, and tamped down to take root.

(Photo: ©2015 Don Riepe, American Littoral Society)

From above, volunteers can be seen industriously planting to cover about an acre in one afternoon on Black Wall Marsh.

(Photo: ©2014 Gena Wirth and Eymund Diegel / Dredge Research Collaborative / Public Lab)

In fact, just one afternoon’s efforts can result in thousands of new sea grass plants to help restore this salt-marsh, wildlife habitat.

(Photo: ©2015 Don Riepe, American Littoral Society)

As row after row is planted, volunteers become more and connected to this incredibly diversified New York City coastal area, where some 330 bird species and 107 species of fin fish can be found.

(Photo: ©2015 Don Riepe, American Littoral Society)

For its 2nd year of Marsh Planting in Jamaica Bay with the American Littoral Society – Northeast Chapter, Broad Channel, Queens, Mitsui New York employees and family were joined by a few friends from Kaneka and the R-Corps, the local Restoration Corps’ students, for a group of 20 in total.

(Photo: ©2015 Don Riepe, American Littoral Society)

The sad fact is that Jamaica Bay has lost an estimated 85% of its historic tidal salt marshes due to filling, pollution, and alteration.

And since the early 2000s, it has been estimated that an alarming rate of 40 acres are disappearing annually, causing marsh-dependent fish and wildlife to dwindle, water quality to decrease, and local flood risks to increase.

So the American Littoral Society, in a commitment to the rebirth of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, which is located within Gateway National Recreation Area, launched a Marsh Restoration Initiative in fall 2012, just before Hurricane Sandy hit.

In winter 2013 when the Mitsui USA CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Dept. in New York learned of the American Littoral Society and its Marsh Restoration Initiative, a semi-annual Mitsui New York employee volunteer activity was planned for launch in in spring 2014 to help with the Society’s constant efforts in Jamaica Bay.

Since then, each experience with the American Littoral Society and Jamaica Bay is bringing Mitsui New York volunteers a real sense of the positive results from just one afternoon’s time and energy -- and a better appreciation for the incredible natural diversity of New York City’s coastal area, where some 330 bird species and 107 species of fin fish can be found.

The American Littoral Society, and its Northeast Chapter, is an environmental non-profit founded in 1982 dedicated to the protection and preservation of U.S coastlines through education, community engagement, advocacy and habitat restoration.


www.littoralsociety.org

Mitsui New York already has an autumn 2015 Jamaica Bay beach cleanup in its calendar, and cannot wait to get back to Black Wall Marsh in spring 2016 to see how the sea grass fares over another U.S. Northeast winter.

At the Japan Day@Central Park, NYC

Mitsui New York has a tradition of running and volunteering for Japan Day@Central, the day-long Japanese festival which kicks off with a 4-mile Japan Run, sponsored by the New York City Road Runners, and fills the green oasis of the Park with family-friendly stage shows and activities, and food tents, too, all free to the public.

 

For Mitsui New York, the popular Japanese food tents is where employees have been wholeheartedly volunteering in recent years, serving the public, young and old, with a smile, while preparing thousands of individual servings.

 

As a “Thank you New York!” Japan Day@Central Park was designed in 2007 with the aims of deepening the understanding of Japanese culture, strengthening local Japanese grassroots connections, and recognizing New York as a nurturing home city for one of America’s largest Japanese communities.

Team Mitsui USA Ready for the 2016 Japan Run

Mitsui USA 2016 Food Tent Crew Ready to Serve the Public

Mitsui New York Getting the Gyoza Ready at 2016 Japan Day@Central Park

Remembering Tōhoku with a Day of Service

Mitsui New York employees joined organizer, the Consulate General of Japan in New York, and supporter, the Japanese American Association (JAA) of New York, for a Remembrance Day of Service through a hands-on activity on March 11th, 2017, a Saturday. This was a wonderful opportunity for volunteers to help the Father's Heart Ministries (FHM) Hunger Prevention program in the East Village, NYC, prepare and serve an all-you-can-eat hot breakfast for hundreds of neighbors as seated guests in a dignified setting, instead of a food-line situation, and receive take-away bags, too, filled with fresh fruits and veggies.

In 2011, on March 11, a 9.0 magnitude, undersea megathrust earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku (the most powerful ever recorded to hit Japan) triggered tsunami waves reaching heights of 40.5 meters (133 ft.) which, in turn, caused meltdowns in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex. The aftermath of this triple disaster included humanitarian crises and economic impacts that would take years to overcome.

The Japan Information Center (JIC) of the Consulate General of Japan in New York, as part of its ties with the community, organizes with the support of JAA and its members, like Mitsui USA, an annual Day of Service to thank New Yorkers for their overwhelming support of Japan after the March 11th tragedy and to help the public-at-large remember Tōhoku and its people.

FHM helps people move from dependency to dignity and from poverty to prosperity. A core value of the FHM is acceptance, demonstrated by programs like their Saturday Hunger Prevention soup kitchen and food pantry for those who are homeless, working poor, immigrants, families, and the elderly, making it a welcomed partner for a Japan-related Day of Service. http://www.fathersheartnyc.org/hunger-prevention/

The JIC at the Consulate General of Japan in New York promotes the better understanding of Japan by providing information to the public and media. It also provides educational resources such as publications, audio visual materials and speakers, and administers scholarships and exchange programs; plus, it hosts a gallery for a rotating exhibition of works by Japanese artists and Japan-related art pieces. http://www.ny.us.emb-japan.go.jp/en/b/01.html

For more than a century, JAA has been committed to providing social welfare services and cross-cultural events for the local Japanese and Japanese American community and building a network of dedicated volunteers. Today, JAA actively continues its efforts to help those in Tōhoku who are still struggling to recover from the March 11th disaster. http://www.jaany.org

Mitsui NY with JIC and JAA Gathering for the 2017 Tōhoku Remembrance Day of Service
The eggs are sizzling….
the coffee is brewing….
as smiling volunteers welcome their East Village neighbors to breakfast!

Food Drive for Citymeals-on-Wheels

Mitsui New York runs an annual Food Drive for homebound seniors living in the New York City area.

Citymeals-on-Wheels is committed to ensuring that every homebound, elderly New Yorker in need has access to 100% of the daily nutrients required for optimum health, and Mitsui USA has been supporting Citymeals’ efforts since 1996.

Cartons of shelf-stable foods are collected and cash is raised during each year’s Drive for Citymeals, either donated by employees, or “matched” through Mitsui USA Foundation’s Matching Gifts and Matching Volunteers programs.

Pajama & Book Drive for Children Staying at Win (Women in Need) Shelters

An annual tradition has developed. In October, as the temperature begins to drop, Mitsui New York employees donate new pajamas and story books for the children staying in Win shelters.

Employees
understand Win shelters can always use garments for keeping the youngest ones warm… and that Win shelters are usually full at 98% capacity, since homelessness in NYC is up more than 100% in the past decade, and 60% of the 4,500 (approx.) residents at Win shelters are children.

So, each autumn, employees try to help Win families know they are remembered by others, while these families work on positively turning their lives around with support from Win.

The "Way To Win" journey begins with a stay in one of the over 1,000 units of Win shelters across Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens.  Simple but safe, quiet, clean and private, each unit has a kitchen, bathroom and living / sleeping space, and includes an essentials kit with the basics to set up a new, temporary home.


Win knows that dignity and comfort are a key for helping a family settle in so they can begin to focus on their life transformation rather than on the struggle to survive.

Pajamas, books, scarves, booties, and more… donated or handmade by Mitsui New York employees for families at Win shelters

These two simple gifts of warm pajamas and a nurturing book give the feeling of a safe environment, and let the children know someone cares.

Handmade for Women in Need (Win) Families

From late summer though January, the tradition of Mitsui New York employees knitting and crocheting colorful scarves for individuals staying at Win shelters has grown.

Now employees are also creating various handmade garments for infants and toddlers, such as booties, hats, shawls / poncho, sweaters and dresses!  Each garment is different, and is crafted with an employee’s heartfelt efforts to help Win moms and dads dress their babies warmly and beautifully during New York’s colder months.

Established in 1983:

  • the current, typical length of stay in a Win shelter is about eleven months;

  • all Win families include one or more minor children and nearly all are headed by a single mom;

  • the average age of Win’s homeless mothers is 32, with an average of two children, ages newborn to teenage, living with them;

  • Win’s temporary shelter > child care & education > life skills > health & wellness, self-motivation > employment… is all about helping Win families to grow, and move into permanent homes;

  • in fact, of the women who graduate from Win and supportive housing services, 90% are reported to still live in the same apartment two years later.

 www.winnyc.org

Mitsui New York Scarf Crochet & Knit Activity Leaders, from left, Estela and Esther (Payroll & Benefits Dept.) overlooking the 2013-14 scarf count.

Running for Others in Japan and the U.S

The MRR (Mitsui Road Runners), a voluntary running club, are a dedicated employee group who run rain or shine, all year long, and also participate in New York Road Runners (NYRR) races.

When any MRR races officially with the NYRR, a donation of USD 25 is given to the Japanese American Association of New York (JAANY) for continuing efforts for “those in Tohoku who suffered as a result of the triple disaster of March 11, 2011.” www.jaany.org

When any MRR donates one of their earned marathon medals, the medal is adorned with a new M4M (Medals for Mettle) ribbon to be presented to someone battling serious illness, and a donation of USD 25 is given to M4M. medals4mettle.org/

M4M, was begun in 2005: to collect runners’ endurance medals for those with similar courage and mettle who battle serious, debilitating illnesses; in a belief that the simple gifting of a finisher’s medal is a subtle but effective way to introduce the concept of charitable running; with the goal of spreading across the globe as an international currency of human goodwill. When someone is fortunate enough to have the physical ability to complete in an endurance event, he or she can salute and honor the mettle of someone who must struggle through one of the greatest challenges in life, illness.

Over its more than 100 year history, JAANY, true to its mission to serve the Japanese American and Japanese community, has expanded its community activities to include: medical-related and legal consultations, seniors’ luncheons with deliveries for those who are homebound, activities for newly arrived families with young children, classes on a variety of subjects, and transmission of vital information for the community. JAANY also runs a scholarship program, maintains Japanese history archives, and has organized a “Committee on Aging” to research and cope with increasing demands of an aging population.


Employees’ Endurance Medals for M4M and People Fighting Serious Illnesses

Mitsui New York’s Recent Medals for M4M

Collecting Pop Tabs for Ronald McDonald House (RMH)

A lot has been asked and said about saving bits of aluminum from cans... Simple and small as it seems… 1,267 pop tabs equals one pound of aluminum, and a couple of tons of pop tabs can equal a new RMH room!
So thank you to those who fill up our “Ronald McDonald Houses” with pop tabs and bring in plastic bags filled with pop tabs in support of families’ pediatric-cancer-care services.
Ronald McDonald House provides a temporary home-away-from-home for pediatric cancer patients and their families. http://www.rmh-newyork.org
It is a supportive and caring environment which encourages and nurtures the development of child-to-child and parent-to-parent support systems, with the New York City facility representing one of the largest of its type in the world.
At RMH each family receives support for emotional and physical services, psychological care, ministry, wellness programs, tutors, music, art, transportation, activities for siblings, and holiday and birthday parties, with a sense of camaraderie for parents struggling with their child’s cancer diagnosis.

 


Aluminum Pop Tabs for Ronald McDonald House, NYC

 

Cycling Fundraiser for Special Olympics

Thank you to the 2017 Mitsui Team of 12 -- Marilyn, Gemma, Gerome, Paul, Sarah, Yoshihiko, Yuka, Yuko, Yutaka, Kenny, Rei, and Lucia -- who cycled and/or donated for the Special Olympics New York Flywheel Charity Ride!

New York Special Olympics relies upon its volunteer coaches and volunteer assistants and its fundraising activities to serve more than 68,000 athletes, men and women, boys and girls, of all ages. http://specialolympics-ny.org

Special Olympics is a “play-for-life” non-profit organization, and the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities which provides year-round training and competition for going on 5 million athletes in nearly 170 countries, free-of charge, for those 8 years old and up; plus, it has a Young Athletes program for those who are 2 to 7 years old. http://www.specialolympics.org

All smiles, the riders after cycling for Special Olympics!
 Marilyn and Gemma!
Yoshihiko and Yutaka….
Gerome ….
Kenny and Marilyn….
 

Volunteer Assistants for Special Olympics

In 2012 a new Team Mitsui USA company-wide volunteer activity was begun with local Special Olympics, a globally-based non-profit that relies on its volunteer coaches and volunteer assistants to provide free-of-charge, year-round sports training and competition for children and adults with developmental disabilities.

Ten from Mitsui New York braved the early morning winter cold traveling to Manhattan’s west side on Saturday February 8, 2014 to volunteer at the New York Special Olympics Peter Aquilone Memorial Floor Hockey Tournament held at the Jacob K. Javits Center in the tradition of Olympic pageantry, ceremonies, and participation.

Special Olympics, a “play for life” organization, with competitive team tournaments and individual skills competitions all held with an oath of: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Mitsui USA has been supporting Special Olympics New York since 2005.

Team Mitsui New York at the Special Olympics Floor Hockey Tournament
Mitsui New York employees setting up the Special Olympics Gold, Silver and Bronze medals and ribbons.
The athletes entered with “high fives” in a “tunnel of cheers,” Olympic Torch Parade wearing their Mitsui New York employee-made scarves.
Mitsui New York employees hung in until the very end, determined to lend a hand for breaking down the hockey courts, too.

Back at the Marshes with the American Littoral Society

In 2014 a semi-annual volunteer activity was begun to help restore the Jamaica Bay marsh islands by Mitsui New York employees and the American Littoral Society Northeast Chapter.

Following a planting day in spring, employees returned in autumn to Jamaica Bay to clean and clear the debris at Broad Channel’s American Park.

The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, located within Gateway National Recreation Area and the largest intact estuarine ecosystem in New York City, provides habitat for 330 bird species and 107 species of finfish.

Sadly its tidal salt marshes are disappearing at an alarming estimated rate of 40 acres annually, since the early 2000s.

The American Littoral Society, an environmental non-profit dedicated to the protection and preservation of U.S coastlines through education, community engagement, advocacy and habitat restoration, is committed to rebirth of the Jamaica Bay marsh islands, and Mitsui New York employees are determined to help marsh restoration efforts.

Sunday September 28, 2014, Mitsui New York employees geared up in gloves and caps, boots or water shoes, were instructed on the use of clipboards to record the types of garbage found.
Clipboards in hand employees and family members fanned out across the beach.
It was a productive afternoon of locating garbage, separating recyclables and filling, and disposing of, bags of trash.
There was even time for a quick seining fish (catch and release) lesson for employees’ kids to identify various species found in Jamaica Bay.
Bags filled, large and small debris lugged off the beach, the “cleaning crew” posed for a photo with their pile of collected trash.