Volunteering pays off for Masuda, Sokei

NUKOLI’I — “I dealt her the winning hand,” beamed Daniel Hamada, state Department of Education Kaua’i area complex superintendent, as winners of two Las Vegas trips were announced Tuesday. Betty Masuda, earning the trip eligibility on a pair of aces, was joined by Tomiko Sokei, who earned her eligibility with a pair of sevens and a pair of aces. Hamada dealt Masuda her winning hand.

The drawings followed a morning of recognition and fun for about 400 senior citizens who are part of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and were recognized for their efforts at the 2005 RSVP Recognition Day luncheon at the Kauai Beach Hotel & Resort (formerly the Radisson Kauai Beach Resort).

“There are 803 volunteers in the RSVP program,” said Nadine Rapozo, support technician for RSVP Program Director Faith Muraoka. “In total, these 800-plus volunteers contributed over 74,000 hours of service to Kaua’i” in 2005.

Rapozo said volunteers who contributed at least 48 hours of service within the year were invited to the luncheon. Azi Turturici, of the county’s Offices of Community

Assistance Agency on Elderly Affairs, and a volunteer herself with the American Association of Retired Persons, (AARP), as well as a coordinator for the Kaua’i Search and Rescue (KSAR) dog program, pointed out that the RSVP program is a grantor/grantee arrangement with the Agency on Elderly Affairs (AEA).

This relationship has proven successful over the 33 years it has been in effect, and Turturici said the volunteers take out knowledge of the office workings into the community.

She noted that, in order to be a volunteer, an individual must be 50 years of age or older. Volunteers can be found not only manning information tables at key government buildings, but throughout the community. Turturici said volunteers work in the mayor’s office, schools, and in some of the many offices of community-service organizations like the American Red Cross, and AARP (where Turturici volunteers as a tax-preparation consultant).

Suzette Naito, one of the event committee members as well as a member of the RSVP Advisory Council, said the Las Vegas trips were given away in conjunction with this year’s theme, “Volunteering — A Winning Hand.”

Advisory council members and other agency representa tives served as dealers, and in true Las Vegas-style, cracked open a fresh deck of cards and dealt a five-card hand to each member of the table.

Following guidelines that were on the table, members of each table fielded an over-all winner, whose name was placed into a hat from which the two grand-prize winners were selected.

Sokei’s name was pulled by county Offices of Community Assistance Director Bernard Carvalho, while County Council man Mel Rapozo pulled his own name out of the hat, to laughter from the entire ballroom.

When the laughter subsided, he pulled Masuda’s name as the second winner.

In addition to participating in the round of table poker, volunteers each received insulated cooler bags and lap blankets, which were rolled up like saddle rolls.

“I got another T-shirt,” beamed volunteer Donna Schulze. “I’ve been in 210 races, and have 210 T-shirts, and I got another T-shirt. But, this one is lavender!”

Schulze, whose husband George Schulze was a joint winner, said that she created a quilt out of her 210 race T-shirts, and that creation is part of the ongoing exhibit at the Kaua’i Museum. George Schulze, meanwhile, showed off his new cookbook that was one of many prizes given away to volunteers in the lucky-number drawings held throughout the morning.

Additionally, volunteers were recognized by Muraoka for 10, 15, 20, and 25 years of service.

The RSVP Advisory Council members include Chair Gladys Fujiuchi, Vice Chair George Mukai, and Treasurer Naito.

Council members include Shirley Akita, Timothy Albao, Rita De Silva, Hamada, Richard Iwamoto, Dorothy Kunioka, Earl Miyao, Vernon Paler, Robert Rivard, Maile Semitekol, Pamela Sokei, Reva Stiglmeier, and Dennis Williams Sr.

RSVP Volunteer Representatives include Lucy Ceballos, Lillian Galas, Gomercinda Lutao, Jane Matsukawa, Stella Miyoshi, Sakiko Okihara, Mabel Panquites, Kimiko Sugibayashi, Fusako Tamashiro and Chizue Teshima.

The event was sponsored by leaders in the county Offices of Community Assistance and the Agency on Elderly Affairs.

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