Volunteers get free lunch

KAPAA — Elaine Morita worked at the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital until last year when doctors told her she had to retire following her diagnosis of cancer.

“I’m not the kind of person to just stay at home,” Morita said. “I still come around once a week to visit with the staff and help out where I can. That’s not being a volunteer.”

But her effort, combined with those of about 50 people in the volunteer corps, enhance the Mahelona Hospital operation.

“Last year, the volunteers provided more than 2,000 hours of service,” said Myra Ornellas, the Mahelona Hospital administrator. “Additionally, they provided $8,000 in financial contribution to the hospital.”

Josie Pablo, the hospital’s recreation director, said because April is designated as National Volunteer Appreciation Month, and last week was the Volunteer Appreciation Week, she got the hospital to host a luncheon for as many of the volunteers who could attend.

“Last year we couldn’t do this because there was a storm brewing,” Pablo said. “This year, we could do it because Elaine brought in flowers, Sharla Hasegawa brought in tropicals, George Salvador brought in ti leaves, and the recreation staff and all the residents made lei to present to the volunteers. The cafeteria provided the lunches with something new — Okinawa Sweet Potato Salad with Kale.”

Pablo said there are a lot of volunteers.

“They raise money for us,” she said. “Whenever I get stuck, or need help, I just ask the volunteers. They’re highly involved in all of the hospital’s activities. It’s like the national theme says, ‘Volunteers make the world a brighter place.’”

The Mahelona Hospital Auxiliary with George Mukai as the president operates the Thrift Shop where a lot of the funds raised by the volunteers are used to provide scholarships for public high school students who are looking at a career in the medical field.

“George couldn’t join us for lunch because he’s ‘volunteering’ at the Garden Fair at the Kauai Community College,” Pablo said. “You see, these people do a lot — not just for the Mahelona Hospital, but for the community.”

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