Photo courtesy of Pat Norikane Logerwell.
By Amy Garyuam Huang
Pat Norikane Logerwell has passion and joy for the volunteer work in her life. She says her family provided the foundation and strength for her to keep giving.
“Volunteer work was something ingrained in us,” says Logerwell. “It was a gift from our parents.”
Her parents raised the family on a truck farm in Auburn, Wash. Despite working seven days a week, they still managed to do volunteer work for the community and their church. The leadership she saw through her parents has transcended her everyday work today. So when Pat Norikane Logerwell was announced to be the recipient of the 2013 International Examiner’s Lifetime Achievement Award, she credited her family and her community mentors. Their stories and experiences became the fabric of her life that ultimately shaped her journey.
Pat remembers her parents’ energy to serve others through the Auburn Park Board, The Rotary Club, Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), the YMCA, the Auburn Garden Club and other civic organizations. She feels fortunate to have grown up in an environment in which community involvement was valued. In high school, she participated in the AmeriCorps VISTA program, Easter Seal camps and the YMCA. Volunteerism became a natural part of her life from high school through college and throughout her adult life.
“When I see people in the community coming together towards a common cause, they create energy that is powerful and contagious,” says Logerwell. “I have great pride in our community and the work of so many striving each day to help one another.”
She believes that everyone deserves to live in a world in which each person can reach his or her full potential. Anyone who has ever met or worked with her will testify to her ever-optimistic attitude and her belief in the goodness of people.
Logerwell has used her time, energy and talents to contribute to making our community a better place to live and a place in which people can pursue a sense of well being. Those efforts have been mainly focused on the Fisher House at the VA Puget Sound Healthcare System, The Keiro and Nikkei Manor garden projects, International Examiner, Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (The Wing) and more recently, the Oba Project.
For 23 years, Logerwell worked at the VA Puget Sound Healthcare System as a psychology technician assessing and counseling veterans. After retirement, she recalled the needs of her patients and families and joined the board of Friends of VA Puget Sound Fisher House, a home for veteran families. She became the driving force behind building a Healing Garden at the Fisher House.
“In 2010, we built the Healing Garden with the Design/Build Program of the University of Washington Landscape Architecture Department,” says Logerwell. “In 2013, we are completing that transformation into a haven for the veteran families.”
The Healing Gardens are only one example of how Logerwell used her vision and collaboration to strengthen her community.
“There’s always a good feeling about working together. Even in the course of adversity or strife, you see community coming together to ease that strife,” says Logerwell. “That’s what keeps me going.”
The love of gardens and working with the earth that she inherited from her parents also inspired her recent involvement in the Keiro Garden committee and working on a garden at Nikkei Manor (an assisted living center of Nikkei Concerns, a Seattle-based nonprofit providing elder care services in the Pacific Northwest).
For Logerwell, everyday conversations can turn into volunteer work. Four years ago, Logerwell, her sister Elaine Wetterauer and their mutual friend, Carole Grisham started the Oba Project which had two goals: to raise money for local nonprofits and to build a diverse community of people working together.
Committed to the idea of donating 100 percent of the profits, Oba Project artisans contribute their time in the production of designer accessories. The project has raised funds for the Keiro Garden and the Martinez Foundation, which supports students of color pursuing teaching careers who are committed to equity in education and giving back to their communities.
The Wing has also been an integral part of Logerwell’s growth, leadership and vision for community empowerment since she started volunteering there in 1984, and Logerwell’s imprint on the museum has contributed immensely to its success.
“Pat has been a longtime board member at The Wing, and is a positive, driving force behind our annual art auction, helping procure artworks and other donations,” says Michelle Kumata, exhibit manager at the Wing. “Many of our donating artists comment how kind and gracious Pat is and how she makes them feel valued and appreciated. You don’t often hear that from artists in regards to other institutions. Her warmth and generous spirit bring light and joy to everyone around her.”
Serving on the museum’s board of trustees since 2005, Logerwell is inspired by working with staff and volunteers of all ages in telling the stories of the uniquely Asian American experience.
“The exhibit ‘9066’ was part of my early volunteer experience at The Wing,” she says.
Hearing the stories of many Nissei-generation Japanese Americans that participated in the exhibit made her appreciate her parents’ resilience and compassion even more when reflecting on their incarceration experience.
“Something very important to me in my work at The Wing is the opportunity I have gotten to work with many of the talented and generous artists in the community,” says Logerwell. “They have provided significant support to The Wing in so many ways. … The artists and their fabulous work are always a source of joy for me.”
Integrity, perseverance and caring are some characteristics Logerwell’s parents, mentors, family and friends passed onto her. Their legacy remains embedded in the work she does.
“Volunteer work is sometimes challenging, but I always get back more than I give,” she says.