2012/Summer in Anacortes, WA, in the U.S.
The Story of the Program
Yuko Komada of Nagoya, Japan has been a chaperone for the NPO UTREK home stay program that is coordinated with the 4H Program in the USA. NPO UTREK sends Japanese students to selected states in the US for an immersion program where the students live with American families for one month. Yuko has chaperoned students for 7 years, visiting cities in the Washington, Oregon, Utah, and Colorado. In 2012, Yuko chaperoned a trip to Anacortes, WA. All the students were placed with families in WA as well as Yuko herself.
Jamie Van Arsdall and Dick Billings were Yuko’s host family. Jamie is a Guardian Ad Litem, a profession that supports people who are unable to fully care for themselves. Dick makes parts for model trains.
One day, Jamie showed Yuko a group of colorful hats that were knitted by one of her clients. Jamie asked Yuko “ what do you want to do with all these hats?” Yuko replied “Well, I want one for me and some for my friends, and let’s see…since you have so many, I would like to give them to somebody who needs them” Jamie said “ I want to present these hats to the people of the Tsunami area”.
Yuko remembered that her friend, Kumiko Takagi, of Nagoya founded “The Cookie Project” in 2011. After March 11, the day of the giant tsunami, Kumiko wanted to distribute cookies to the victims of the tsunami. A friend, living in Natori recommended a school in Natori so Kumiko and her friends made cookies and sent them to the school. Yuko emailed Kumiko about the hats and Kumiko said the school would be happy to accept the hats as well.
＜Just like a Spring＞
“The Hat Spring Project” began.
For the project, Jamie collected yarn wherever she could, in her neighborhood, church etc. Jamie would then deliver the yarn to her clients, who would knit the caps.
＜Presents from Anacortes to Natori＞
At the completion of the exchange program, Yuko flew back to Nagoya with 35 hats in her suitcase. Kumiko contacted a member of PTA of Natori Special School and set a date for the presentation of the hats. Yoko, Kumiko and Kumiko’s friend, Yoko Kaiden presented 166 hats on December 4, 2011. They were honored to present the hats and they were well received.