Mahelona residents have bus, will travel

KOLOA — Have bus, will travel is a mantra Josie Pablo lives by.

Pablo, the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital’s recreation director, may not have been with the staff of nurses and long-term care crew, but her mantra carried the busload of residents to the Koloa Plantation Days parade and celebration at the Anne Knudsen Park.

An active lifestyle person, Pablo brings the energy which carries her through events like the Paradise Ride, and the Kauai Marathon to her residents at the Kapaa long term care facility.

“We need to keep the residents stimulated,” Pablo said during a conversation that gave birth to the annual Lights on Rice holiday parade more than 15 years ago. “We have our Mahelona bon dance coming up Aug. 9 from 6 p.m.”

Pablo said the hospital uses its bus and some of the cars to transport residents to community bon dances like the Kapaa Jodo Mission event this weekend.

“But there are others who can’t make the trip,” she said. “So, we got some of the people involved in the bon dances to create a bon dance at the hospital. If we can’t bring the residents to the bon dance, we can try and bring the bon dance to them.”

Pablo said the Joyful Noise taiko group under the direction of Aki Conquest, and the Hui Alu group with Alan Hiranaka will be some of the featured entertainment during the Aug. 9 bon dance at the Mahelona Hospital.

The men of the Koi Dynasty will be dancing and offer a special performance.

Completing the atmosphere of bon dance, the Mahelona Hospital Auxiliary will roll up its sleeves and offer local bon dance favorites like saimin, pronto pups, flying saucers, and more.

Since the start of the Mahelona Hospital bon dance, other long-term care facilities like the Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waimea and Hale Kupuna Heritage Home in Omao have started hosting bon dances for their residents.

Volunteers are key to the success of any of the year-round Mahelona Hospital programs for its residents, Pablo said. On Aug. 15, the hospital will host its annual luau and volunteer recognition in the courtyard.

The hospital will feature a special slack key concert on Aug. 13 starting at 7 p.m. in the hospital’s auditorium.

Following the luau, the residents get loaded onto the bus for a special outing at the opening night of the Kauai County Farm Bureau Fair on Aug. 22.

The busy month wraps up on Aug. 27 when the visiting Okinawa Prefectural College of Nursing students, in collaboration with the Kauai Community College of Nursing help the hospital with its final beach outing to Lydgate Park from 9:30 a.m.

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