Wesley Palms Community Newsletter

Resident Lisa Kanemoto Spotlights


‘Humanity of the Underserved’ for More than 40 years

In the introduction to her blog, which can be found at homelessof pacificbeach.wordpress.com, Wesley Palms resident Lisa Kanemoto writes … “I feel the responsibility to help those who are rejected by society …” That has been Lisa’s mantra for the past 40 years as a professional photographer and storyteller who uses her camera lens to expose social ills and injustice.


Early in life at the insistence of her father, Lisa began a career as a goldsmith, dabbling in jewelry design and forging other decorative items from precious metals. “I wanted him to be proud of me so I joined the family business but I was not passionate about that type of work,” Lisa said. After Lisa married her husband George, an Army officer, she stumbled upon a photography class on base to combat boredom while her husband was working. It changed her life. “When I saw that first image jump out of the camera I was mesmerized,” she recalled. Photography was the perfect vocation for Lisa. Although she describes herself as “painfully shy” she loves talking to and photographing people.

“I have a great interest in people living on the streets,” Lisa said. “I want to hear their stories. While photographing my subjects I went into many places that not many would have the courage to go. After 40 years, I learned not to judge a book by its cover. People are all very complex and I want to bring that to light through my photos. Meeting so many people, I not only learned about them but I also learned about myself. I gained confidence and was inspired many times when times were rough.”

In a photographic book titled “We Are,” she documented the gay revolution in San Francisco in the 1980s. In “Dark Mirror,” a self-analytical work, Lisa explores her personal demons, touching on the horrors of her childhood in Germany during World War II and concealing her Jewish ancestry, the death of her father on the Russian front and, later, her son’s schizophrenia as well as her own account of surviving a mastectomy.

She documented the plight of Pacific Beach’s homeless population by living on the streets with them. Her forthcoming work is called “Heartbreaks,” which will explore how parents deal with mental illness affecting their children. The book is dedicated to her deceased son David. She would like her next project to be photographing her fellow residents at Wesley Palms. “Living here has been a blessing,” Lisa said. “People here are so kind and friendly. They have such wonderful faces and stories that I would love to capture.”

It’s Saturday Morning at Wesley Palms.


Table Tennis Anyone?

If you’re looking for ways to stay physically and mentally active, table tennis might be the right game for you. Just ask resident Dan Chang, who has been playing for months with a half dozen other residents. “I love the exercise,” Dan said after serving a spin shot with a nasty, unpredictable bounce. “It may not be obvious at first but table tennis can be a good workout.”


Table tennis has always been a game for all ages, and players compete internationally into their 80s and beyond. In fact, the 2010 PBS documentary, Ping Pong, looks at the fierce world of competitive table tennis among the over-80 set.

Table tennis is a lively game, yet it’s playable at the pace the competitors choose. In other words, because there are so many ways to benefit from the game, it’s not necessary to go full-tilt to enjoy it.

“My grandkids visit regularly just so my 12-year-old grandson can beat me in a few games,” said resident David Brown.
Some benefits of playing table tennis include:

• A great way to stimulate the brain and promote quick thinking while improving hand-eye coordination.
• Low-risk of injury
• It’s easy on the joints
• Offers a social outlet
• Improves balance
• Few games draw a stronger one-on-one competitive spirit

“We play for fun but one of our goals is to get good enough to challenge the Wesley Palms staff in a tournament and win,” Dan said.