What can JETAA USA do?

I know some people were a little bit disappointed in the amount of time it took us to come up with a plan of action. During these types of situations, I think we need to take a step back and realize that you can never be fully prepared when a disaster like this happens – no one can – and that is evident across every organization that I’ve spoken to or researched today.

After a lot of emails, phone calls and in person discussions, I think we we have a plan of action.

What to do on the local level:

Fundraise, fundraise, fundraise. Start planning fundraising events at the local level.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Host it at a bar or lounge. Most bars/lounges are supportive when it comes to fundraisers, especially on the weekday, because it drives business to that establishment on an otherwise quiet night.
  2. Ask for a donation of some sort from the venue where you host your fundraiser. If you host it at XYZ Bar, ask if you can get a $1 kickback per drink to go to the cause. If a business is reluctant, you can always mention that you are in the preliminary stage of picking a venue out to create the illusion of having a competitive advantage.
  3. Reach out to your Consulate, inform them of your plans and invite them to the event. This will go a long way in helping build that JETAA/Consulate relationship that is essential to have a strong chapter.
  4. Advertise the event through your personal networks. People who don’t have a direct involvement with Japan are interested in showing support to you and helping out. Don’t underestimate the support that your friends and family are willing to provide. A lot of my friends have already mentioned that they’d like to help out or donate in some way.
  5. Contact your local newspapers, television and radio stations. Watching CNN today, I think I saw the same footage 5 times every 5-10 minutes. Media outlets, especially local ones, are looking for different ways to humanize this story and report on how it’s affecting people in America. This would be a great way to get JETAA some high level exposure.

Which raises the question: What are we fundraising for?

What we’re doing on a national level:

I’ve been overwhelmed with the support that I’ve received from the JET alumni community. Trying to mobile efforts here in Northern California, my JET friends have been very supportive, helping out in any way possible, whether it’s been researching the various NPOs that are organizing relief efforts to taking the time to listen to me bounce ideas off of them.

I was a bit surprised to read the comment from an earlier post. Conner Cole, as well as one of my friends in San Francisco mentioned that they wanted to hop on a plane right now and help out on the ground, in Japan. In a conversation with Ryan Hart today, I learned that someone in Seattle did just that.

With the help of JETAANC and JETAANY, we plan on creating a national fund that will go toward funding relief efforts of JET alumni who will go to Japan to help out. This would not only allow JET alumni to give back, but it would bring everyone back to the mission of the JET Program – grassroots international exchange. We are still deciding what the appropriate use of the fund will be and will have more information at a later date, after we have performed due diligence and reached a consensus among the chapters participating in the fundraising effort.

Here are some potential questions that you may have:

Why is the fund being managed by JETAANC and JETAANY? Both JETAANC and JETAANY are 501c3 nonprofits, and the former JETAANC treasurer that will be helping out is a registered CPA. We plan on doing funding on a large scale at the national level, and running it through a 501c3 will make it much easier for tax purposes.

When will we send volunteers? Organizations like the Red Cross are still mobilizing their relief efforts. As it stands, the only organization that’s on the ground right now is the Japanese self-defense force. We are performing due diligence to send people through an organization that meets JETAA’s mission and provide a solid partnership. We also want to be aware that people on the ground right after a disaster like this have emergency and/or medical training. I’m assuming that the JET alumni we send will not have this experience.

How will people get selected to go? We’re still trying to figure this out. Rather than only sending the people that we can wholly fund, we plan on trying to send as many people as possible and at least subsidizing the trip in some way.

How much will JETAA USA pay for those who want to go to Japan? It all depends on how much we fundraise as a collective entity, and how many people want to go.

I’m still trying to work out the logistics of everything right now, so I advise chapters to focus on fundraising efforts at the local level. When we have a better idea, I will update the blog with contacts of who you can reach out to for specific topics (i.e. potential relief organizations, people who want to go to Japan, etc.).

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18 Responses to What can JETAA USA do?

  1. 1991 JET from FUKUSHIMA willing to travel back to help in any way. Can fund my way, but have no idea how to help or where to go.

  2. RodM says:

    Hi David, we’re trying to find an organization that we can coordinate logistics once you get on the ground in Japan. Setting this up might take a few weeks since they’re only doing the emergency and medical relief now, and also given the potential nuclear problem. Stay tuned for more updates.

  3. Renee Paczkowski says:

    Former Shiga JET willing to help out any way possible. Same as David, I can fund my way there, but I don’t know where to go or how I can help.

  4. Vera Sticker says:

    Hoping you can point me in the right direction for this — I had a trip planned to Tokyo in two weeks and as of right now I’m still planning to go. Do you know anyone I could contact about volunteering while I’m there?

  5. Kassie says:

    Hi im Kassie from the UK. Id be willing to help on any way shape or form as for funding flights i would suggest that you appeal to an airline for free tickets. Someone out there should be kind enough to find it in there hearts to further your cause. If u like i can assist you with planning out the action plan in order to help ur relief efforts
    my email is novakintera@gmail.com

  6. YvonneS says:

    Former JET (1990-1993) from Hyogo looking to help in any way possible. Please email more information when it’s available.

  7. Sean says:

    08″ JET residing in the Bay Area, USA. I also need more information on volunteering in Japan. I can fund my trip going there, but just need help on the home stay situation for the day to day relief efforts. Please get back to me as soon as you have more information.

  8. Pingback: Resources, Donations, and Taking Action | PNWJETAA

  9. Sara says:

    Willing to travel to help rebuild, currently unemployed and no ties. Can afford my flights, but would need assistance with living expenses.

  10. Katie says:

    I was a Miyagi ALT from 2004-2007, based in Higashimatsushima.

    I am eager to return to the Ishinomaki area to help with rebuilding when that begins. I could fund some portion of my own trip and could probably find at least a week off of work (somehow).

    I have organizing and some fundraising experience and am based in the DC area – please let me know how I can help with any general planning needs you may have. It would be such a relief to be able to help…

  11. Robert Anderson says:

    I was a JET in Kumamoto from 2002-2005.

    I know that many JET alums are eager to return and help out, but I don’t know how many of us are actually trained in what will be most urgently required now or even in the recovery and reconstruction that will take place later. I think that at present untrained JET alumni in the disaster zone would simply get in the way and use precious resources best reserved for the professionals and victims. I think we should plan for projects that best use our talents and experience. In the short term, we should participate in fundraising activities, perhaps hosting them ourselves and donating the money to established relief agencies. In the long term, I think that JETAA should raise funds for the rebuilding of schools in the damaged areas-replacing textbooks, libraries, computer equipment, etc. This would be a great way to keep our association with education in Japan and to demonstrate the value of JET and JETAA to the people of Japan.

  12. Ryan Hart says:

    I agree that right now, the best thing we can do is raise funds and awareness of the recovery and relief efforts in Japan. There will be a time where Japan will need us to go there to help out with volunteering, but that time will come in the next few months. In the meantime, raise money to help out the professionally trained teams that are there.

    There are still quite a few JETs that were living in those areas that have yet to check in with CLAIR. if you have any connections with JETs in the affected areas, and you have had contact with them, please check in with CLAIR. The list is still too long. http://www.jlgc.org/TopicList.aspx?topicCategoryID=20&topicID=156&languageTypeID=1&controlType=Display

    Another idea that I have been toying with is the idea of morale and support for the citizens of the affected prefectures. If you were a JET in these areas, write letters to your Board of Education and to the Mayor. Although that mail will not get through at the moment, that mail will eventualy get through and they’ll need to know that former JETs from around the world support them.

    In addition, I urge all chapters who are going to plan or attend fundraisers, put out a poster for each of the affected prefectures (Ibaraki, Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate, Akita, Aomori) and have the attendees of the fundraisers write a small message of hope to the citizens of these prefectures. I am sure that once life returns to some sort of normalcy, these posters will be up in the lobby of kencho to show the citizens that the JET chapters from around the world are thinking about them. This will be very inspirational.

  13. Keryn says:

    I was a JET in Aichi Prefecture and now live in the Twin Cities. Are there other JETs in the area that have already started working on fundraising efforts, or would be willing to collaborate? email: kdseward@hotmail.com

  14. Christopher T Smith says:

    I would be interested in potentially helping out on the ground in Japan if you need people to go over there. I am a certified project manager in case that is helpful and still retain some of my Japanese language skills even though I haven’t been in Japan for the past 12 years. Let me know if there is anything I might be able to help with. Thanks!

  15. Stephen Smith says:

    I concur with Robert’s post above. Long term relief efforts should be one of our primary areas of focus….educational, children’s and cultural organizations our primary beneficiaries.

    I’ve been in Thailand since 2002 and still clearly remember the tsunami that hit the Phuket area. Long after the disaster teams and major relief organizations left, there was still so much to be done, ranging from rebuilding schools to caring for children who lost one or both parents and other family members to helping people rebuild their livelihoods and careers to helping people adapt to loss of limbs.

    We could team up with Rooms to Read for library replenishment. We could help rebuild parks for the affected communities and playgrounds for the children.

    I am just rambling now…..but you get the idea.

    Steve Smith
    Fukuoka ’95-98
    Bangkok, Thailand

  16. Elvira Gallegos says:


    Did you receive my email via Facebook regarding a coordination between JETAASC and you guys -to support your idea? I am the Tsunami Relief Coordinator for JETAASC if you should want to purse this as a team effort.


  17. Sally H says:

    Hi Rod!

    Iioka (a part of Asahi city) is about 180miles southeast of the epicenter of Sendai in Chiba-ken. Although it hasn’t been widely publicized in the news, the town has been devasted from the tsunami. Currently 624 people are displaced in shelters, and many more are staying with other family members or with family friends. The junior high school that I taught at has been flooded, and the road to my elementary school is covered in debris. Here are some videos of the town I used to live in.

    Aftermath of the earthquake and getting people to evacuate.

    Aftermath of the tsunami.

    A lot of surfers came to visit the town’s seaside, and this is a video made by one of them.

    Although it’s great that my employer is willing to match 2:1 for these bigger organizations, I’d really like to have donations go somewhere local and getting a match, particularly knowing that my donations are being used to support a small town that I have ties to. There is an Asahi Disaster Donation account, but according to my employer, the rules stipulate “Eligible organizations must be located in the U.S. or one of its possessions and be recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt public charities under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code (per Section 170)”. Obviously, our town doesn’t have a tax-exempt public charity under Section 501(c)(3) or the sophistication to set one up within the next few weeks.

    Could I send the donation money to JETAANC with the insurance that it’ll be forwarded to Asahi?

    BTW, I still have your jacket!

    – Sally Harada

  18. RodM says:

    All great questions. I’m compiling an frequently asked questions (FAQ) document that will hopefully answer all of your questions. It should be posted tonight.

    I’ve also created a page for basic fund information which can be found above as a tab, or you can go to: http://bit.ly/jetaausarelief.

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