Outstanding kupuna

NUKOLII — A little love goes a long way.

It’s a motto Pat Simpson lives by and on Thursday she was recognized along with Col. Roger Caires during the 2015 Outstanding Older Americans Recognition Ceremony and Luncheon at the Kauai Beach Resort.

“I was shocked when I found out I was nominated by Deborah Duda,” Simpson said. “Usually I’m the one with the comebacks and lines, but I’m speechless. This is the ultimate honor. Being able to help people every day is an honor, and I’m amazed with this.”

Simpson, a retired surgical technologist, makes it a point to complete at least one act of kindness each day. She set up a Share the Care movement at Sun Village where she lives and coordinated grocery deliveries and other chores while the elevators were being installed.

Simpson was selected the 2015 Kauai Outstanding Older American female while Caires earned the male award.

Both honorees will join Gov. David Ige at a recognition luncheon on Oahu June 5, said Kealoha Takahashi, director for the county’s Agency on Elderly Affairs.

Caires, the president of Caires Land Surveying, serves the Kauai community through volunteering with the Kauai Civil Air Patrol, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, and also served as chair of the County of Kauai’s Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund Commission and in the Hawaii Air National Guard.

Caires said he was surprised at his selection.

“Community service makes me feel good while making a difference in the community,” Caires said. “I especially like flying, and being in the Civil Air Patrol is an exciting way to give back.”

He said during his previous tenure as Wing Commander for four years, he was involved in three tsunami warning missions, and encourages young people, especially high school students, to learn how to fly.

Howard Carvalho, Caires’ nominator, said the colonel in the Civil Air Patrol received a distinguished award from Sen. Daniel Inouye for his outstanding service to the Civil Air Patrol and held the position of Hawaii Wing Commander.

“He unselfishly gives of his time and talents to his family and our communities through commitment and dedication,” Carvalho said.

Each May is designated as Older Americans Month and the Administration for Community Living celebrates older Americans for their contributions to the nation, and respective communities, Takahashi said.

This year, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act, the aging network focused on how older adults are taking charge of their health, getting engaged in their communities, and making positive impact in the lives of others.

Simpson and Caires were selected from a field of eight of Kauai’s kupuna, including Barbara and Ralph Leaman of Princeville, Kamai Napaa of Lihue, Guy Ambrose of Kalaheo, Carolina Santos of Kekaha and Charles Rebb of Lihue.

Simpson also assists the terminally ill and lends a hand to the Kapaa Soup Kitchen. She routinely visits the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital and brings hymn-singing to patients, and spends time tutoring an elementary school student once a week.

“When I started mentoring this student, he wouldn’t even talk to me,” Simpson said. “But within a year, just an hour every week, he would come running and give me a big hug. It goes to show what a little love can do.”

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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