Edith Yamanoha, Program Manager of Felton’s Aging Services, has a focused and calm demeanor. When she discovers new techniques of serving others, she beams with joy. Edith comes from a family of five that includes her parents, brother and sister.
“My mother was a warm and generous person and an excellent home cook who loved to connect with anyone and everyone, especially at grocery stores,” Edith recalls. “She noticed all the children and babies and often made conversation with their mothers and fathers. My mother taught me to become financially independent as a woman and to lead a life of kindness and generosity. My father was an engineer whose hobby was playing golf; he taught me the importance of having a sense of curiosity and to pursue my passion.”
Edith lived in Japan until the age of nine and then lived in Korea until she was 17. She attended Cal State Hayward (now known as California State University, East Bay) for five years. She shares, “I majored in chemistry. It took only one summer job at a lab to realize that I was not pursuing science as my career path. I was far more interested in taking art classes, socializing and later, in cooking.”
After college, Edith returned to Japan where she worked and studied Japanese for six years before beginning her career in the United States. She worked with two telecommunications corporations for a total of 13 years in several different positions, as a market manager in business development and as a market analyst.
Edith says, “After working in the private sector for almost 20 years, I wanted to work with a grassroots organization, possibly working with young people, introducing food and cooking as a means to teaching basic education. One of my goals was to design an educational curriculum to inspire learning, bringing relevance to culture and history through food and cooking. If only we could engage all five of our senses to pique our desire for learning, I believed that we would naturally raise a generation of worldly adults who appreciated lifelong learning.
“I volunteered for a couple of non-profit organizations, but there were also long gaps between jobs. I was in perpetual limbo since 2008 until I discovered Felton’s Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) and enrolled in 2016. It was a life-changing experience. SCSEP gave me a second chance to build a career in the most unexpected times in my life. “
SCSEP is part of The National Council on Aging (NCOA), the nation’s leading nonprofit service and advocacy organization representing older adults. NCOA’s goal has been to improve the health and economic security of 10 million older adults by this year 2020. For more than 60 years, NCOA has been a trusted voice and innovative problem-solver, helping seniors navigate the challenges of aging in America. NCOA works with local and national partners to give older adults tools and information to stay healthy and secure and advocate for programs and policies to improve the lives of all seniors, especially the most vulnerable. SCSEP currently operates 25 projects in 10 states and Puerto Rico and is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.
“I was hired by Felton in 2017 and am deeply grateful for this opportunity to work with the most compassionate and hardworking people who genuinely care for some of the most neglected populations in our community. I love my job and appreciate all my coworkers at Felton. Not only do I feel that I can think outside of the box; I feel the opportunities are boundless. My goal is to make a lasting difference at Felton and with the community that I serve. What is most rewarding is to experience the happiness of the people and community at large and that I have done my best to contribute to the satisfaction of our management and colleagues.
“I appreciate the diversity, management and employees. Also, I appreciate how employees are treated fairly, including 21 days of vacation, and how everyone cares about the quality of their work and the well-being of their clients,” Edith smiles.
Photo: Edith (Left) and Cathy (Right) at Felton Insitute’s 130th Anniversary Gala, October 2019
In relationship to the impact of COVID-19 on senior division services, Edith notes,
“It’s forcing us to think on our feet and find creative solutions NOW. This pandemic is accelerating our need to integrate technologies in the lives of our colleagues and clients. Not only is COVID-19 pressing against us to make urgent changes, but the current climate of addressing systemic racism squarely is also coming to the surface. We are moving into the digital age, exploring ways to help seniors adopt technology and access online resources which will affect every facet of their daily life. Access to devices, access to high-speed internet and a warm friendly training designed for seniors can help us make strides toward closing the digital divide. The changes may feel restrictive when we can’t meet face-to-face, but we are preparing for the future, which has arrived sooner than we expected.”
Edith says her personal motto is to never be defeated by her own personal weakness. In her time away from work, she is dedicated to nurturing her spirit and always expanding her skills. She has been studying Spanish and hopes to become fluent in 10 years. Edith loves hiking, especially near a body of water or the redwoods. When possible, she enjoys traveling to other parts of the world and cooking and dining with friends. Music is important to her; she loves to dance, and enjoys listening to live jazz and classical music with friends. For 14 years, she enjoyed many of her hobbies with her beloved pup Pumpkin, who has since passed away.
Edith is always eager to help others, and she encourages seniors who need support during these challenging times to reach out and be sure not to isolate themselves.
About Felton Institute: Founded in 1889, Felton Institute responds to human needs by providing cutting edge, evidence-based mental health and social services that transform lives. Felton Institute is a tax-exempt organization registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit under EIN 94-1156530.
Offering more than 50 acclaimed and honored programs that address homelessness, mental health, prenatal, adolescent, adult and senior needs, Felton Institute provides services in San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, Marin, and Monterey counties.
Felton is named for its social services pioneer and executive director Dr. Katharine “Kitty” Felton who was called the ”conscience of San Francisco” and was committed to ensuring that children and families in crisis have access to social services and resources in order to help them build upon their inherent strengths and develop self-sufficiency. www.felton.org