Volunteers deliver warmth to violence victims, kupuna

For this holiday season, members of the Kauai Association for Family & Community Education (FCE) want to keep the kupuna (elderly) warm and toasty, and to help bring stability to Kaua’i victims of domestic violence.

And they can thank Ruth Okihara, a former president of the FCE, who passed away last year.

During National Family & Community Education Week last month, Kauai Association for FCE members donated handcrafted lap blankets to senior citizens in care homes and longterm care facilities.

The kupuna are likely to use the gifts throughout this holiday season.

The idea for making the blankets came about with the passing of Okihara, and a decision by her son, Dennis Okihara, a Kaua’i businessman who also runs Obsessions, a restaurant in Kekaha, to give his mother’s leftover fabric to association members.

The offering inspired the members to use the materials to make 70 blankets. The group effort is co-chaired by Evelyn Bonachita and Jo Shimamoto.

The blankets were then donated to officials at the Wilcox Memorial Hospital long-term care unit (Garden Isle Health-care), the Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital at West Kauai Medical Center nursing facility in Waimea, Kauai Care Center in Waimea, and the Hale Kupuna Heritage Home in ‘Oma’o.

Blankets also were donated to leaders of the YWCA’s Family Violence Shelter for dispersal to victims of domestic violence.

Members of the Kauai Association for FCE have been active for 55 years, and comprises nine clubs whose members’ focus is community service: Club Musubi, Hanapepe, Hui Anuenue, Hui Holomua, Kalaheo, Kapaa, Kukuiolono, Lihue and Waimea.

The Kaua’i group members are affiliated with the National Association for Family & Community Education, with a mission to strengthen individuals, families and communities through continuing education, the development of leaders, and community action.

As a member of the state association, Kaua’i group members focus on family issues and life-long learning experiences, and pride themselves in keeping members informed about local, national and international concerns, they said.

Kaua’i group members this year, for instance, cosponsored a presentation by Frank Krau, a former U.S. Army special agent and a private investigator, on how to avoid becoming a victim of crime.

The group members also donated books as part of the national program, “Books for Newborns,” and helped out with the “Home Show” at this year’s Kauai County Farm Bureau Fair.

Those interested in joining the group can call Sanae Morita, the group’s president, at 245-6897.

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