A Brief History of JASSC
The Japan-America Society of Southern Colorado (JASSC) officially came in to existence on March 18, 1998, when Articles of Incorporation were submitted to the Office of the Secretary of State of Colorado. It received 501(c)(3) status shortly thereafter. Three individuals: Robert "Rocky" K. Scott, Thomas M. James, and Paul Maruyama were instrumental in the founding of JASSC. The new society started with approximately 40 members. These members had been members of the Colorado Springs branch of the Japan-America Society of Colorado (JASC), headquartered in Denver. JASC approved the creation of JASSC and informally assisted and supported its activities, especially during the early stages of formation. The relationship between JASSC and JASC continues to this day.
The first President of JASSC was "Rocky" Scott, who was also the President of the Greater Colorado Springs Economic Development Corporation. All of the activities that had been conducted by the Colorado Springs branch of JASC continued to be conducted by JASSC, including language classes, the annual Mochitsuki (Rice Cake Pounding) Event, Kodomo No Hi (Children's Day) Celebration, Kondankai (discussion meetings on cultural topics), and other cultural activities.
In 1995, the first major event was the Mochitsuki Event. It was held at the Japanese Kitchen off Garden of the Gods and I-25. Donations collected were sent to Japan to aid in the aftermath of the great Kansai earthquake. JASSC raised approximately $3,000 for this effort.
For the next two years of being part of the JASC, members grew weary of the drive to Denver for meetings and events. Membership in JASSC grew to justify its independence. JASSC gradually began holding events in Colorado Springs. In 1996, JASSC hosted the 6th Japan-America Grassroots Summit (Manjiro Summit) in Colorado Springs. Over 200 guests attended from Japan and over 600 local citizens participated as host families and volunteers.
On March 18th, 1998, JASSC was incorporated by the Secretary of State of Colorado. Its initial goal was to expand its membership to 100 and focus on
1) Promoting cultural understanding and individual members
2) Holding special events, such as, the Mochitsuki, Kodomo No Hi, Membership Banquet, and recruit participants for the annual Manjiro Summit.
3) Holding other events, such as, the Kondankai (3 times per year), Japanese language classes, speaker events, and Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau events.
A paid Executive Director was hired in 1999. However, after less than two years, the decision was made to have JASSC become an organization with only volunteers. It has remained a completely volunteer organization with no paid staff. Thus, 100% of all monies taken in by JASSC from dues, donations, and fundraising activities such as the Annual Japanese Cultural Festival & Bazaar are retained and used exclusively for JASSC activities and programs benefiting members and the Southern Colorado community.
In 2006, JASSC hosted its 2nd Manjiro Summit. It involved 1500 local citizens, including military personnel. The Summit Headquarters was at the Broadmoor Hotel. Again, the community members and military families became host families to guests from Japan. There were several local Japanese speakers recruited as interpreters and helpers. This event truly brought the entire community together.
JASSC has directly supported many activities that promote exchanges between the citizens of Japan and the United States. The most notable are the Japan-America Grassroots Summit (Manjiro Summit), the Sister City Exchange Program between Colorado Springs and Fujiyoshida City, and the International Children's Music Festival. JASSC has one of the oldest annual student exchanges with Fujiyoshida City. The Adult Sister City exchange is on-going, and often includes Mayoral level involvement. Exchanges include Taiko groups, Bon Odori dancers, junior high school students, educators, and chorale groups. These exchanges continue to result in many visitors coming from Japan to Colorado Springs and local citizens visiting Japan.
Today, the same activities continue to be conducted while several new activities have been added, such as the Annual Japanese Cultural Festival & Bazaar, the Outstanding Speaker Program, and student scholarships. Membership has grown to over 100 and the trend has continued upward annually. A JASSC website (https://www.japanamerica.org/) and Facebook presence, is kept current to keep members informed of all its activities and is used to promote membership and public awareness. Moreover, a quarterly newsletter is e-mailed to all members (and mailed to the few others that do not have e-mail addresses).
The future of JASSC looks bright as it continues to be the ambassador for Southern Colorado. It attracts Japanese tourism, businesses and investments and continues the many student exchanges between Japan and Colorado. And it will continue to play a major role in promoting the annual Manjiro Summit and Fujiyoshida City exchange events. JASSC is Southern Colorado’s entity to maintain and increase greater friendship between the United States and Japan.