gmhTODAY 01 gmhToday Mar Apr 2015 - Page 84

morgan hill those who do Morgan Hill’s Sister Cities Headford, Ireland Mizuho, Japan San Casciano, Italy San Martín de Hidalgo, Mexico Seferihisar, Turkey 84 “This is a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity for our youth to connect on a personal level and gain a true understanding of youth in other cultures.” Judy Little TOP: Morgan Hill high school students visit Mizuho in 2012. ABOVE: Middle school students prepare for their July 2014 visit to Mizuho, let by Judy Little, standing. Building a Bridge from Morgan Hill to Mizuho 2003 The Morgan Hill chapter of Sister Cities International is established. 2006 The Little’s join the chapter. Morgan Hill and Mizuho become sister cities. A quilt exchange is established. 2007 Preparations are completed for the student exchange program. 2008 Mizuho students make their first visit to Morgan Hill. 2009 The Little’s and Chaperone Cindy van Rhijn take their first group of Morgan Hill students to Mizuho. 2010 Judy Little is named an Honorary Citizen of Mizuho. 2011-15 The Morgan Hill relationship with Mizuho continues to flourish and grow. 2016 The Little’s are laying the groundwork to host Mizuho’s Mayor during the week of Freedom Fest. G M H T O D A Y M A G A Z I N E MARCH / APRIL 2015 gmhtoday.com PROGRAM Presbyterian Church where they serve dinner and spend time with kindergartners every Friday night. They also volunteer at the Buddhist Community Center in Morgan Hill where they spend time with senior citizens. Judy noted that the Buddhist Community Center has hosted an annual Japanese cultural event for more than 50 years. “It’s probably the longest-running cultural event in the South County,” Judy said. “There are Taiko drums and martial arts demonstrations, traditional Asian foods and a farmers’ market. The event also honors local WWII Japanese-American veterans with an exhibit of photos, letters and artifacts on loan from the Morgan Hill Historical Museum.” In the aftermath of the 2011 earth- quake and tsunami that devastated Japan, Judy launched a fundraiser. “The people of Mizuho had learned about the spirit of volunteerism from their Sister Cities connection with us. Before that, volunteering and fundraising to help others outside of one’s family was not part of their culture. Some of the money we raised paid for gas so the people of Mizuho could make the 7-hour trip to Fukushima to help the survivors. They even ‘adopted’ a kindergarten class there to help them during the recovery.” The Littles were nominated by their peers and honored for their philanthropy and volunteer work by the Morgan Hill Community Foundation at its Philanthropist of the Year awards event in 2012. Judy and Murv met and married in Idaho in the 1960s and moved to Morgan Hill in 1988. Last year they celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary. While Judy carved out a professional career as a paralegal and Murv worked as a nuclear engineering consultant after serving in the Navy, the two are now enjoying retirement. But when it comes to serving the community, they aren’t showing signs of slowing down any time soon. We are fortunate to have them in our midst.