Children's Home advocate to receive special recognition at community awards

For Bonnie Boice Nishikawa, the plot of land where the Boys & Girls Club sits at Stewart and Fifth streets is more than just another piece of state property.

It's home -- to her and hundreds of other "home kids" raised at the Nevada State Children's Home.

A resident at the home from age 5 to 18, Nishikawa, now 64, has spent years as a contact point for the home kids, mounting a campaign to save the old gym on the site from destruction and gathering written and oral histories from the children who lived there.

"When we're gone, there will be no history, no remembrance of the home," she said. "It was a part of our lives. It was a different kind of life for us; it was a different childhood than most have."

She's dedicated herself to gathering pictures, newspaper articles, anything that could one day fill a museum -- ideally in the old gymnasium, she thinks -- dedicated to the home, which operated from 1873 to 1992.

"A lot of people come back to see where they lived as a child, and there's absolutely nothing there," she said. "The big building is torn down, but there are other things thy can take their families to and say, 'This was me as a kid.'"

With all other historic stone buildings that made the gone from the site, Nishikawa has pushed for the gym, built in 1897, to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places and preserved for the home kids.

A mother of three sons, Nishikawa lives in Carson City and has organized several home kid reunions. She also hopes to create a Web site to help get some of her photo collection on-line, but "I don't know how to do that, somebody needs to help me."

Today, she will receive a special recognition award for her efforts to preserve the history of the children's home at the the third annual Community Awards sponsored by the Nevada Appeal and Carson Access Television. Awards will be granted in eight categories from sportsman of the year to humanitarian of the year in a luncheon today.

If you go:

What: 2002 Carson City Community Awards

When: 11:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. today

Where: Carson Nugget, 507 N. Carson St.

Cost: $17 per person


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