Honoring the ‘real people’

ANAHOLA — Leonora Kelekoma of Anahola was one of the original Ke Ola Pono No Na Kupuna.

The grandmother basked in the last remaining rays of sun in the afternoon with her granddaughter, who flitted around the yard.

“We busy,” Leonora said, keeping a close eye on Brianna’s frolicking. “I cold in the shade. The sun is good so I come outside.”

Kelekoma was one of those honored Saturday during the Alu Like Ke Ola Pono No Na Kupuna 25th anniversary celebration at the Anahola Clubhouse.

“This is so special — to be here at the Anahola Clubhouse where Ke Ola Pono No Na Kupuna program started 25 years ago, and hearing the music from kupuna,” said Kaulana Finn, representing Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Shirley Simbre-Medeiros, Alu Like program specialist III, said part of the anniversary celebration is honoring kupuna who started with the program 25 years ago.

“We have 22 people who are still here,” Simbre-Medeiros said. “But only a handful are able to come and join us. We have special certificates for them.”

Ke Ola Pono NoNa Kupuna was born when Congress passed the Older Americans Act in 1965 in response to policymakers’ concern about a lack of community social services for older people.

The legislation established authority for grants for community planning and social services, research and development projects, and personnel training in the field of aging.

“This is where the real people are,” Simbre-Medeiros said. “A lot of the kupuna we serve are single-home people, meaning they live by themselves, and look forward to coming to the programs in Anahola or Waimea. We make sure they feel young and stay active through singing and dancing. We also talk to them in plain language — this is us, we no make believe we somebody we not.”

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