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Ukulele students deliver much more than a song

LIHU’E — Dave Goller, president of the Mahelona Medical Charitable Foundation, has received a gift from 49 Lihu’e Neighborhood Center ‘ukulele students aimed at helping clients at Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital get healthier and happier.

During a gathering at the Lihu’e Neighborhood Center, Goller received a $1,000 check from Marilyn Matsumoto and Herman Paleka, both master ‘ukulele teachers at the center, and their students.

“The money is going to be used for the betterment of facilities,” Goller said.

Matsumoto said the donation was the first for the ‘ukulele students, who wanted to improve the quality of life for long-term-care patients at the state hospital.

The donation was made in the hopes that senior citizens who participate in other county-sponsored programs conducted at eight other neighborhood centers will be encouraged to make similar contributions to benefit hospital operations, Matsumoto said.

“It would be nice if they could do so, too. It makes a difference,” she said.

The ‘ukulele classes are held at the center from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. every Friday. The county-sponsored classes are free.

Paleka, who is a vice president of the foundation, is a professional ‘ukulele player with more than 50 years of playing experience.

Paleka leads a class of 33 advanced ‘ukulele players, and Matsumoto, who has been playing for 50 years as well, leads a class of 16 beginning students.

Paleka said students shouldn’t be under any pressure to become ‘ukulele masters.

“I tell them the goal is not to work toward becoming a professional, but just to have fun,” he said.

Matsumoto said she loves to sing and play Hawaiian music with her ‘ukulele.

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