SGI-USA Opens New Community Center in Riverside, California
On August 30, 2008, nearly 600 SGI-USA members and guests came together to celebrate the opening of a new community center in Riverside, California, USA. In a congratulatory message, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda encouraged the gathering of old and young members, who also represented diverse cultural backgrounds, to use their new center to create "waves of friendship." He went on to say, "I am convinced that your community center has a vital mission to contribute to the welfare of the people in the community where it is located."
Many of the members attending recalled that in the 1970s, SGI-USA's Riverside Chapter based its activities out of a small house that had no air conditioning and a toilet that often clogged. Despite the humble location, family and friends were invited to the home to attend discussion meetings and engage in dialogue on the humanistic teachings of Nichiren Buddhism.
To mark the opening, local and state officials honored the Riverside SGI-USA members and Mr. Ikeda with 13 proclamations, certificates and awards of recognition. Blythe, California, proclaimed August 24 "Soka Gakkai Day" and Indian Wells designated it "Daisaku and Kaneko Ikeda Day." The California State Assembly awarded Mr. Ikeda a certificate recognizing his "prolific efforts for world peace for the past 61 years."
SGI-USA General Director Daniel Nagashima, who spent the day at the center celebrating with the members, encouraged each person attending to have a personal vision and to use the new facility as a hub of community activities and for realizing their shared dreams and aspirations.
[Adapted from an article in the September 19, 2008 issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA, and a article in the September 15, 2008 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Ken O'Ferrall]