LIHU‘E — While readers of The Garden Island met Yoshiko Kano in the Lifestyle pages earlier this year, the Kaua‘i Museum has chosen the dimpled real estate agent to be honored as a Living Treasure for her exemplary service to the community.
“I was actually embarrassed. I don’t like the attention,” Kano said about news of her nomination. “But I’m getting excited. My family, I think, is a little more excited than I am. I don’t think I have let the enormity of it sink in.”
Kano and four other Living Treasures will be honored at a July 9 luncheon at the Kaua‘i Beach Resort in Lihu‘e.
Kano, who is widely known for her childhood nickname, Dimples, doesn’t see her forty-plus years of community service as anything extraordinary.
“It’s not so much of what I get out of it,” she said. “It’s just stretching out your hand and knowing that you helped somebody. It’s knowing that satisfaction.”
Kano heard the call for service in 1972 — the year she joined the Zonta Club of Kaua‘i, which strives to advance the status of women through service and advocacy.
“To belong to Zonta you need to be an executive or a professional,” she said. “To me, when I became eligible to join Zonta, it opened a lot of doors for me. I’ve done a lot of traveling and met some very interesting people.”
Two years later, in 1974, Kano began volunteering with the Salvation Army.
“I’ve been with the Salvation Army for 37 years, and I like the Salvation Army because of their reputation and because what they do,” she said. “Although the Salvation Army is a Christian church, they don’t discriminate because of religion. It’s no matter who you are. You are a human being and we help you.”
Kano volunteers every third Tuesday of the month at the Kokua Soup Kitchen at the Lihu‘e Salvation Army.
In addition, Kano has been with the Kaua‘i United Way since its inception in 1943, the same year she graduation high school.
“I actually have been working since 1943, fresh out of high school,” she said. “That makes it 67 years. Twenty-five years exactly at the Lihu‘e Plantation, and then I turned to real estate.”
Kano currently serves on the Kaua‘i Board of Realtors. She said she has plans to retire, but her four children will believe it when they see it.
As a Buddhist, Kano’s next project is to help organize next year’s centennial celebration for the women’s association at the Kapa‘a Hongwanji Buddhist Temple.
As for her volunteer work, Kano said she will continue “for as long as I can.”
“When you see the type of service you can do worldwide to these underprivileged countries, it’s kind of exciting.”
The Kaua‘i Museum’s Living Treasure of Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau luncheon celebration is July 9 at the Kaua‘i Beach Resort.
Since 1988, the museum honors people as “Living Treasures” for their contributions to culture, education and the welfare of the people of Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau.
Tickets are $50 per person or $450 for a table of ten. Call 245-6931 or 246-2470 for more information.
• Andrea Frainier, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681, ext. 257 or afrainier@ thegardenisland.com.