LIHUE — Shirley Akita, retired as the Department of Education Superintendent of Schools, said she is so busy, she doesn’t have enough time to feel old.
“I started volunteering right after retiring,” Akita said. “That was so long ago, I forgot when I retired. If you stay active, you don’t have time to feel old, and time goes by so fast.”
Akita was one of the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program representatives present Wednesday when Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. and Kauai County Council Chair Mel Rapozo joined other county officials and mayors across the country in thanking those who serve on the Day of Recognition for National Service.
“I’m still busy,” Akita said. “But it’s time to start bringing in some young ones like Wilma Chandler. She was ready.”
Celia Melchor, RSVP coordinator with the county’s Agency on Elderly Affairs, said RSVP volunteers provide nearly 30,000 volunteer hours, annually. At a rate of $18 an hour, that’s a savings of $540,000 to the county.
Milani Pimental of Kauai Habitat for Humanity accompanied Americorps volunteers Alan Clinton and Chris Bruton to the ceremony, the Americorps volunteers still digging out paint from their fingernails.
“Kauai Habitat for Humanity gets a grant for the Americorps volunteers,” Pimental said. “It provides for each volunteer to provide 1,700 hours over a 10 and a half month span.”
Other Americorps volunteers, including Sara Hopps, Katie Cannon, Rebekah Magers and Sally Rizzo, help Megan Fox with Malama Kauai.
Dr. Dennis Pezzato, an AEA advisory council member and an RSVP volunteer, said it has been proven that people who volunteer tend to live 10 to 15 years longer.
“You folks are in people’s homes,” said Gina Kaulukukui, domestic violence interventions coordinator. “You are the music — the eyes and ears — of the Prevent Suicide Kauai Task Force. You will get training to look for the symptoms of people who are thinking of suicide. And, if you go through this brochure and don’t like what is there, let us know.”