A reason to celebrate

KAPAA — Elaine Morita said the only shirt missing is the one from the Cancer Walk, which was started two years ago by the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital. 

“I couldn’t cut up that shirt,” said Morita, who recently retired following 25 years of service at Mahelona Hospital. “Everything else, I gave to Maile Masuoka of Vicky’s Fabrics, who turned it into a quilt.”

Morita, who will be celebrating a birthday in September, was cut short in her employment by cancer. She was enjoying the annual Admission Day Luau at the hospital on Friday.

“We are 98 years old,” said Myra Ornellas, the Mahelona Hospital administrator. “We became a state 56 years ago, so we’re celebrating not only the 98 years of Mahelona Hospital, but the 56 years we are a part of this state.”

President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill making Hawaii the 50th state on Aug. 21, 1959.

Mahelona Hospital, in its tradition of celebrating Admissions Day with a luau, opted for the early date because of its bon dance taking place Thursday evening starting at 6 p.m.

“This courtyard, including the multi-purpose structure built by the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay, will be transformed from the open yard,” said Josie Pablo, the hospital’s recreation director. “We’ll have the bon dance ring, taiko drums, and all the food from the bon dance here.”

Nadine Nakamura, the Kauai managing director, said the luau was a real typical local celebration where a reason was needed to pull people together to enjoy themselves. As a caregiver herself, the celebration demonstrates the ohana spirit and the many hands and hearts coming together to help care of others.

Nakamura’s words rang true with Juvie Bercasio, who in addition to caring for the residents, provided tropical flowers and plants from her fledgling farm.

“It’s not a farm, yet because not everything is planted,” Bercasio said. “Last night we had the residents at the Kauai County Farm Bureau Fair until late. Then, this morning I was at the garden early before coming in for the luau. Going back-to-back is pretty rough.”

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