NUKOLI‘I — No one wants to be called old, even Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona.
“I don’t like the term ‘Older Americans,’” Aiona said in his remarks at the 42nd annual Kaua‘i Older Americans award recognition ceremony yesterday. “There has to be another term, and I welcome suggestions.”
Aiona said the “mature and seasoned seniors” are a treasured resource because they pave the way for the younger generations.
“Now, 60 years old is when life starts and people need to redefine the years between 60, 70 and 80,” he said.
Aiona joined Kaua‘i Mayor Bryan Baptiste in naming Naoko Ho and Richard “Soupbone” Kashiwabara as Kaua‘i’s Outstanding Older Americans.
“Volunteering keeps me active,” Kashiwabara said. “I get to meet a lot of people I don’t get to see for a long time, and it kind of gets to be a reunion.”
One in 20 Kaua‘i residents is over 60 years old. In the next 10 years, the number of citizens 60 years and older will increase, but the number of younger people is not keeping up with the number that are maturing.
Aiona said the number of hours put in by seniors as volunteers amounts to thousands and saves the government and businesses thousands of dollars.
“They breathe back life to the community,” he said. “This is very important because without the senior volunteers, things would not be as active, vibrant and outlook on life would not be as positive.”
According to the Agency on Elderly Affairs, Ho, a retired teacher, was recognized for her volunteer work with the West Kaua‘i Lions Club, Waimea Alumni & Friends Foundation, Japanese Cultural Society, Waimea Senior Center, Na Kupuna Council, Delta Kappa Gamma Society International and her active involvement with the Kaua‘i Retired Teachers Association and the Hawai‘i State Teachers Association.
Kashiwabara of Lihu‘e was honored for his volunteer work helping veterans, community organizations and people in need.
Agencies that have benefited from his skills and time include Kaua‘i Veterans Council, Kaua‘i Hospice, Special Olympics, Kaua‘i Okinawan Club, Kaua‘i Farm Bureau, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, and the Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 5.
He is retired from the county of Kaua‘i, where he was an electrician.
Kashiwabara and Ho will be honored at a statewide recognition ceremony May 22 at Washington Place on O‘ahu.
Ho and Kashiwabara represent a field of 16 senior citizens who were nominated for the award, including Elizabeth Kapeka Azeka, Josephine Bandmann, Raymondo Domingo, Basilio B. Fuertes, Jr., Mel Gabel, Nancy Golden, Nancy Harada, Katherine Martin, Marilyn Matsumoto, Betty Matsumura, Howard M. Nagaoka, Haruko Otsubo, Irene Randall, and Roberta Weil.