OC Human Relations Volunteers Honored

Ken Inouye and Ed Klopfenstein, two dedicated and outstanding volunteers with OC Human Relations, will be honored at the 2017 Spirit of Volunteerism Awards, which takes place April 26 at the Disneyland Hotel.

Ken Inouye has volunteered with OC Human Relations for over 24 years, donating more than 300 volunteer hours each year.  When Ken learned there was a local hate crime murder followed by a near-murder within the same year, he worked hand in hand with the OC Human Relations Commission, the Huntington Beach City Council, and the Police Department to organize a “Campaign Against Hate.”  This effort included a City Council Proclamation and organization of a new Huntington Beach Human Relations Task Force.  The City Council subsequently appointed Ken to lead the Task Force, which continues to serve Huntington Beach.

Ken has served as a Commissioner appointed by the Orange County Board of Supervisors to the OC Human Relations Commission since 1993.  During this volunteer service, he led the Commission in responding in the wake of 9/11 and organized an interfaith memorial with the OC Sheriff, Chair of the Board of Supervisors, and faith leaders from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other faiths, showing unity in the face of terrorism designed to divide us.

Ken is currently the Vice-President of the nonprofit OC Human Relations Council and has led as President and Treasurer of the California Association of Human Relations Organizations, thirty-year member of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), National President of the Pacific Southwest District of the JACL, President of the Southeast Los Angeles, North Orange County Chapter of the JACL, founder and board member of the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA), and Vice President of the Orange County Japanese American Association.  His service extends to numerous service clubs and organizations.

Ken exudes enthusiasm and a true commitment to human relations concerns in our community.  Appalled at hate crimes committed against an African American family in Yorba Linda, Ken turned his outrage into a plan of action to eliminate hate crimes.  As OC Human Relations Commissioner, he led a countywide series of Listening Sessions in local African American churches to learn the extent of hate crime and under-reporting.  He published a report on the sessions, taking it to every city council in Orange County.  When a transgender woman was killed, Ken attended her memorial as a representative of the Commission, where his eyes were opened to this part of our community.  He then led a successful Listening Session of the Commission at the LGBT Center to hear from the Transgender community.  Subsequently, he wrote a report and again took it to each local city council to raise awareness of this isolated community.  Ken has dedicated himself to the community as a voice for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, disability, or sexual orientation.  His contributions are paramount.

It’s hard to think of OC Human Relations without Ken.  He is an influential spokesperson who moves us by his sincere focus to build understanding between people.  Board members and staff at OC Human Relations often comment about being inspired by his eloquence and passion-it’s not just in his words, it’s in his actions and his purpose.  Many have learned from Ken’s ability to engage diverse groups, his knowledge, and his unending willingness to help and enlighten others about human relations.

As the owner of an accounting firm, Ken is a busy man, but he always makes time to serve as a civic volunteer, an engaged father, and doting grandfather.  As an OC Human Relations volunteer, Ken has worked to advance the lives of individuals, students, and families in Orange County. A champion of justice and diversity, his energy and wisdom motivate staff, volunteers, and the community.  He brings a refreshing sense of fairness, honesty and humor to situations, which often confront the ugliness of prejudice and intolerance.

In a world where individuals seem to be picking sides and espousing absolutes and ultimatums on the basis of singular beliefs that are divisive, Ken stands in a category where love and unity are at the core of his heart.  He sees with love and compassion-finding humanity in people.  Everyone is equal in his eyes, and to Ken, all deserve the same opportunities regardless of preconceived stereotypes.  Ken cares about those who need to be cared about most.  He works tirelessly to educate and role model what it means to be human-to be humane, and to see the best in every single individual.  Ken is a beacon of humanity in a world that needs to see the light.

Ed Klopfenstein is a volunteer mediator with OC Human Relations’ Dispute Resolution Program.  He took our Basic Mediation Training back in July 2012.  Through our Dispute Resolution Program, we provide mediation and conciliation services at our home office in Santa Ana, CA as well as at the courts to members of the community and litigants who are dealing with various types of cases including but not limited to neighbor/neighbor, landlord/tenant, consumer/merchant, and roommate/roommate.  Ed has been an invaluable resource by assisting us with our court mediations.  He has mediated numerous Small Claims and Civil Harassment cases, totaling over 800 in all.  In addition, by taking our many Advanced Mediation Trainings, Ed has furthered his volunteer contributions to our program and the community by mediating many of these topic-specific matters in court.Klopfenstein_Ed.OC Human Relations2

In 2014, Ed was honored as a DRPA Sherpa for his exceptional contributions during 2013 as a volunteer mediator in our court mediation programs.  This recognition is awarded annually by the Orange County Superior Court only to six volunteer mediators who, in a given year, have gone above and beyond the call of duty to provide extraordinary service to our court litigants through mediation services.

Ed is a caring, charismatic and highly committed volunteer who has provided in excess of 2,000 hours of volunteer service (a current top record) as a volunteer mediator since joining our organization helping us expand the reach of our services and aiding in the pursuit of making our communities safer by assisting people to resolve conflict in a positive way.  He has also been putting those skills to work in his personal life by helping his neighbors and friends.

As a retired professional, Ed has dedicated his available time, which he could have chosen to spend more leisurely, to come to our court mediation program at the North Justice Center, in Fullerton, to help us mediate cases in order to give back to the community, and this, in our view, exemplifies the spirit of those who truly make a difference in our society, and he has.  It is our honor to nominate Ed for this special recognition.

The Spirit of Volunteerism Awards have been presented by OneOC for the past 41 years.  OneOC’s mission is “accelerating nonprofit success.” OneOC provides volunteers, training, consulting and fiscal sponsorship services for nonprofits to help them become as efficient and effective as they are passionate about their missions. 

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