Every last Monday of each month (except for July and December), the WLA Buddhist Temple’s social hall turns into a joyous gathering of women and men, all over eighty years young, who enjoy each other’s company and a wonderful complimentary lunch prepared by the Temple’s 80-Plus Lunch Program Committee. This 80-Plus lunch program, approved by the Temple Board, began in 1995. It was the brainchild of Chiyo Nitta, with the assistance of Lorraine Soda.
Chiyo first envisioned the monthly luncheon as a way of honoring the Temple’s pioneers by offering a wonderful monthly meal and an opportunity to visit with good friends. The first luncheon was served on February 27, 1995 at no charge to the guests, with transportation provided to those who wished for a ride. Guests were treated to music or Japanese movies.
The program was initially funded by the Temple and donations from then-president Bill Sakurai until Chiyo suggested holding an annual yard sale to raise money to support the monthly luncheons. The first yard sale was held August 1995, and with the donations and help from Temple members, it was a huge success. Over the years, the yard sale has been so successful that 80-Plus has been able to use excess funds to buy a commercial freezer for the Temple kitchen, a copier for the office, and more.
Under Chiyo’s leadership, she and her volunteer helpers have prepared the delicious monthly lunches for members for more than a decade and a half. Recently, Chiyo moved to Mercer Island, near Seattle. Although she is quite missed, the 80-Plus lunch program continues thanks to Chiyo’s innovative ideas and devotion to WLA Buddhist Temple. She has left us with a wonderful legacy.