The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Colleges of Arts and Sciences has recognized Yoshiaki Fujitani, Nora Harmsen, Shimezi Kanazawa and Calvin Sia as Serving Heart Award honorees.
The award was established by the Universal Values for a Democratic Society–Nisei Veterans Endowed Forum Series to honor those who have provided extraordinary service to individuals and the community. Through such service, the recipients inspire others to live meaningful and more fulfilling lives.
Yoshiaki Fujitani was a sophomore at the University of Hawaiʻi enrolled in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in 1941. On December 7 of that year, he was one of many cadets given rifles and mustered into the Hawaiʻi Territorial Guard when Pearl Harbor was attacked. When he was later assigned to the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaiʻi, Fujitani founded Living Treasures of Hawaiʻi, a program that recognizes and honors people who have made significant contributions toward a more humane and fraternal society. Fujitani, who was elected as Hawaiʻi’s second Nisei bishop in 1975, became a Living Treasure himself. He retired as bishop in 1992 and has been active in numerous volunteer capacities.
Nora Harmsen began providing volunteer dental services in South Bend, Indiana. In 1997, she made Hawaiʻi her home. Harmsen volunteered at Kalihi-Pālama Health Center, where she worked from 2004–2011. In 2005, Harmsen went on the first of many two-week dental missions to the impoverished Kwajalein Atoll and its surrounding islets in the Marshall Islands. Over the years, these missions have delivered dental services valued at nearly $700,000. In addition to her unyielding volunteer work, Harmsen is the only dentist for the 2,500 residents on the island of Lānaʻi.
During World War II, Shimeji Kanazawa served as liaison between the Japanese civilian population and the U.S. military when she was hired as an assistant to the Swedish Consul General. In the late 1950s, Kanazawa began her life’s work as an advocate for youth and for the aged. Kanazawa was instrumental in founding Project Dana, a Buddhist-based elder care program sponsored by the Mōʻiliʻili Hongwanji Mission that provides assistance to the elderly and respite to caregivers. Today, even in her nineties, Kanazawa continues to selflessly help others.
A tireless child advocate, Calvin Sia was in full-time primary care pediatric practice in Honolulu from 1958–1996. He initiated Hawaiʻi Healthy Start, a home visiting program to prevent child abuse and neglect, and to support positive child development. He was instrumental in implementing the Medical Home concept nationally. In the 1960s, Medical Home was envisioned as a central source for medical information about children, especially those with special needs. Sia also helped establish Emergency Medical Services for Children, an initiative designed to reduce child and youth disability due to severe illness or injury.
For more about the four honorees, read UH Mānoa’s news release.