LIHU‘E — Members of the Kaua‘i Chapter of AARP celebrated a final meal together in the Kaua‘i AARP Information Center, Wednesday during a lunch meeting of the Kaua‘i Chapter members.
Located behind the Shell gas station on Kuhio Highway in Lihu‘e, Kaua‘i Chapter vice president Jenni Yukimura said the office will close its doors for the final time, Oct. 31, having already closed to the public last friday.
“This lunch meeting is just a way for the membership to spend time together in this office before it closes at the end of the month,” said Janice Bond, a Kaua‘i Chapter AARP member.
Deana Shelby, president of the Kaua‘i Chapter AARP, said the decision to close the Kaua‘i office was a national AARP decision based on a survey of its members.
During the survey, Shelby said the membership consensus was “Why do we need to go to you? Why don’t you come to us?”
Shelby said the Kaua‘i Chapter has already responded by starting a newsletter which will bring news of the chapter to its membership.
Additionally, it has already put volunteers in place who will visit the Kaua‘i Senior Centers during its monthly Senior Assembly to discuss issues and activities of interest to kupuna.
“We already have volunteers for the Westside,” Shelby said. “There is a volunteer for the Lihu‘e, Kapa‘a and Kilauea centers. We need to identify volunteers for the Koloa, Kalaheo, Hanapepe, Kaumakani, Waimea and Kekaha centers.”
People interested in volunteering for the open senior centers can contact her on any Wednesday in October from noon to 3 p.m. at the AARP office behind the Shell station in Lihu‘e, or call 823-0502.
Shelby said the chapter will continue to have monthly meetings, the next one scheduled for Nov. 9 at the Pi‘ikoi Building. Following the November meeting, Shelby said the chapter is scheduled to meet at the Lihu‘e Christian Church on Kress Street in Lihu‘e.
“We are not going away,” Bond said. “There will be more senior activities. It’s just, we won’t have the office.”
Friday, the AARP is hosting “Get the Facts about Long-Term Care in Hawai‘i,” a free session, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the Aloha Beach Resort in Wailua.
Registration for this event can be done online at www.gethefactskauai.eventbrite.com or by calling toll-free at 1-877-926-8300.
Bond said two recent AARP activities, the Staying Sharp seminar at the Courtyard by Marriott and the community luncheon at Lydgate Park over the weekend, helped raise more than 540 pounds of food and $79 for the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank.
While disappointed with the decision to close the office, Shelby said without rent to pay, there will be more funds for activities.
“I see this as an opportunity to reach out to the people we serve,” Shelby said. “As the county provides senior centers throughout our island with activities scheduled most days of the week, we have an opportunity to take the AARP message of community service, advocacy and providing information which improve lives throughout the island. We’re taking the message to the people.”
She said the chapter is working to coordinate with other groups who have connections and affiliations with seniors.
People can still call the chapter office number at 245-4500.
“It’s just that no one will be here to answer the call,” Shelby said. “People will have to leave messages and we’ll return the calls.”
Yukimura said the national AARP membership is into the thousands of people while on Kaua‘i, there are about a hundred people who are active.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.