Recognizing the past and celebrating the future

February 27th was an evening filled with good company, delicious food, a lot of laughter and Jaycee recognition at Rising Phoenix Jaycees’ Awards and Installation Banquet held at Dave and Busters. The night began with a lion dance blessing performed by Lung Kong Physical Cultural Club and the introduction of our fabulous co-emcees, Eve Epitome and Nate Martin. They kicked off the program by acknowledging some very important people, including RPJ Board family members, state Board members, local chapter Presidents, past RPJ Presidents, and lastly, US Jaycee Ambassadors & Senators in attendance. Shortly after the audience recited the pledge of allegiance and sung along to the tunes of the Star Spangled Banner and Hawaii Pono`i.

The smell of garlic and butter wafted through the room as Dave and Busters workers began bringing out the food, but before they could eat they bowed their heads to a thoughtful and lovely invocation given by Nicole Rodwell. After, each table was dismissed and allowed to have their fill of Monte Carlo chicken, fire-grilled salmon, assorted vegetables, Caesar salad, garlic-herb roasted potatoes, steamed rice, freshly baked bread and vanilla or chocolate cake for dessert. As people enjoyed their dessert the formal program began. President Karen Nakagawa came to the podium to present the 2015 awards. Congratulations to the 2015 award recipients, Ryan Murabayashi, Nicole Rodwell, Nhut Pham, Erica Lee, Jorge Jamie, Ashley Paradee, Taryn Goo, and Nicholas Yem for an outstanding job last year!!!

Once all the 2015 awards were presented, Chapter President Karen made people tear as she gave her outgoing speech and presented her 2015 Board and Mentors with various gift boxes. Each gift box contained a character doll from the popular Disney movie, Inside Out, along with a heart-warming explanation of how each character represented the positive qualities of the person. In addition to the doll was candy, a gift card and a framed picture of a memorable moment shared together. Just as Nate was about to continue with the program, the 2015 Board members surprised Chapter President Karen with a touching photo booklet, which captured all the adventures, events, and happy moments that occurred in 2015 along with a giant car magnet to advertise her realtor business and aromatic bottles of Japanese Cherry Blossom soap and lotion.

As the program continued on, Hawaii Jaycees President Rachel Cabinizas was called to the stage to share a few inspiring words and install the 2016 Board of Directors. Nate and Eve returned to the stage with Eve fashionably sporting the 2016 Board shirt and latest Jaycee style. Slowly, the 2016 Board members made their way to the stage as bios for Karen Nakagawa, Nhut Pham, Ryan Murabayashi, Casey China, Andy Uehara, Justine Kadokawa, Erin Lambert and Nicole Rodwell were read. Meanwhile, epic music was being played on que by the talented Shawn Unemori. The music died down and each board member repeated after President Rachel the Jaycee oath. Past chapter presidents came up to help pin and present each Board member with their Board shirt and Jaycee swag items. Next, the bio for incoming president-elect, Erica Lee was read as she made her way to the stage. She accepted the role of the 2016 President and took the Jaycee oath. Shortly after, Immediate Past President Karen pinned and presented President Erica with her Board shirt along with the chapter gavel. Before President Erica was able to give her incoming speech, the first chapter President surprised her by presenting to her the original chapter Charter. Once President Erica finished her heartfelt and motivating speech the crowd cheered and applauded in excitement as the 2016 Board of Directors was born!!!

As the show continued on, there were more surprise awards given to a few deserving members. Congratulations to new Jaycee Ambassadors Elvin Berzabal, Karen Nakagawa, Nate Martin and Senator Eve Epitome!!! The night finally came to end as new members, Si Loi Leung and Ashley Paradee took the member oath and everyone gathered together to recite the Jaycee creed.


About RPJ Hawaii

The Rising Phoenix Junior Chamber of Commerce (RPJ) is a leadership development organization for individuals ages 21-40. Members develop leadership skills through the planning and management of various projects and events in three key areas: community development, business development, and individual development. RPJ is one of nine chapters of the Hawaii Junior Chamber, and it is affiliated with the United States Junior Chamber and Junior Chamber International (JCI).
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