The City of Southlake and Carroll Independent School District have joined a community-wide Southlake4Japan relief effort to encourage and support the students and citizens of Southlake’s Sister City, Tome, Japan.
Located in the northeast part of Japan, Tome is about 35 miles (or 55 km) north of Sendai, Miyagi – the city closest to the epicenter of the March 11 earthquake that caused a destructive tsunami that resulted in the loss of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in damage in Japan. Tome (previously Toyoma) and Southlake entered into a Friendship City relationship in 1991. It was modified to a Sister City agreement in 2004 when Toyama merged with other towns to become Tome City. The area has experienced an unprecedented loss of power, infrastructure and suffered great damage, according to city and school sources inside Tome.
A website – Southlake4Japan.com – has been established to kick off the local support effort, with a simple online giving option to accept donations. In turn, events to raise funds are beginning to be organized by students, parents, citizens and civic organizations throughout Southlake. The most immediate need involves monetary donations for victims of the natural disaster, but city and school officials say long-term needs such as food, clothing, medical and school supplies will be identified and communicated as the situation progresses.
“This effort ties directly back to our theme for this school year – The Power of One,” CISD Superintendent David Faltys said. “We’ve been teaching and communicating to our staff and students that the power of one individual can make a difference and impact the world. It’s the message of our Rachel’s Challenge curriculum and it fits in nicely with our support of Southlake4Japan.”
“We have a very close relationship to a City near Sendai, and that’s Tome,” Southlake Mayor John Terrell told a crowd at Southlake Town Hall Tuesday evening. “We’ve had a lot of student exchanges and adult exchanges where they come here and we go there and we have some very close friends. If you wish, you can go on www.Southlake4Japan.com and see how you might be able to help.”
Both the Southlake Sister City program and S.W.A.T. (Southlake Working As a Team) spearheaded the effort, asking all local businesses, citizens, civic groups and churches to join. The group has formed a committee of representatives who have been in contact with Tome officials to find out how Southlake and Carroll ISD can best help with their immediate situation. Last week should have been a Sister City exchange trip for students in Tome. Instead, the families in Southlake who planned to host the young people are helping with the relief effort.
“Carroll ISD is pleased to join in the Southlake4Japan efforts to provide relief and support to our Sister City,” said Erin Shoupp, School Board President. “Our students were involved in helping after Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti and other natural disasters. We ask our Dragon parents, students and staff to join in this effort to support the parents, students and staff in Tome who have been affected by the devastation there.”
Councilman Jeff Wang is representing the City of Southlake on the Southlake4Japan committee. School Board Secretary Craig Rothmeier is serving as CISD’s representative. Both are featured in an online video on the Southlake4Japan.com website along with Mayor Terrell, Clayton Reed of S.W.A.T. and Virginia Muzyka of Southlake Sister Cities. Rothmeier was among a Southlake contingency that traveled to the sister city several years ago. He and his wife, Peg, have also served as hosts to an exchange student from Tome.
“It’s hard to conceive what life must be like for the kids in this town as they have been displaced from their schools, their homes, their families and their everyday routines of learning,” Rothmeier said. “It’s our hope through this initiative to provide assistance that will allow the students of Tome to return to some degree of normalcy.”
So far, Carroll high school students are planning a benefit concert, Johnson Elementary families are designating next week as JES4Japan week and the Rockenbaugh Elementary PTO has announced that a portion of the proceeds from their April 9 County Fair fundraiser will benefit the Southlake4Japan relief effort. CISD officials expect many, more similar announcements of projects/fundraising in the coming days, weeks and months. To learn more about CISD specific projects, visit the district’s website (www.southlakecarroll.edu) regularly or watch for announcements on MySouthlakeNews.com.
“We are known as a city with great affluence,” said Reed, pastor of the Southlake Baptist Church. “One of my great desires coming to this city is that we would not only be known for what we have, but what we give.”
To give to the families of Tome, visit Southlake4Japan.com.
The Power of OneDragoncan make a difference.