NUKOLII — Following the announcement on Friday at the Older American Month recognition luncheon at Aqua Kauai Beach Resort, the first words out of Ed Kawamura’s mouth was, “I too young!”
Kawamura and Shirley Simbre-Medeiros were announced as Kauai’s Outstanding Older Americans, a male and female honor by the county’s Managing Director Nadine Nakamura who represented Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.
Simbre-Medeiros is also known for her words of “Hurry Up! What I gotta do? I no mo’ all day!”
The top outstanding awardees were selected from a field of a dozen nominations submitted by people in the community, and judged by a panel of judges selected by the Agency on Elderly Affairs.
Nominees come from all walks of life and included Wilma Chandler, Richard Coller, Patricia Fellbeck, Keith Holdeman, Nathan Kalama, Kawamura, Elvira Kimokeo, Dr. Krishna Kumar, Aileen Mawae, Simbre-Medeiros, Gini Stoddard and Tom Timmons.
“The County of Kauai recognizes that older adults — advocating for themselves, their peers, and their communities — are trailblazers, paving the way for future generations,” Nakamura said in delivering a proclamation in observance of Older Americans Month. “These nominees have all demonstrated this through their hard work, and give us lessons to learn that we will instill in the next generation.”
The county’s Agency on Elderly Affairs, celebrating its 50th anniversary, is committed to raising awareness about issues facing older Americans and helping all individuals to thrive in communities of their choice for as long as possible.
Kauai has approximately 17,033 kupuna age 60 and older who contribute to its communities, and to the nation.
Kealoha Takahashi, Kauai’s Executive on Aging, said the Agency on Elderly Affairs continues the celebration which started in 1966 when Kauai’s Committee on Aging was established under the leadership of Ms. Margaret “Peg” Faye.
“This year’s theme, ‘Blaze a Trail,’ references how older Americans pave the way and make a trail for all who follow,” Kealoha said. “They are passionate, committed and steadfast with the contributions they make to our community.”
Kawamura was nominated by Charlene Burgess, who describes herself as a “social worker,” for his advocacy for the needs of Kauai’s veterans since retiring from the U.S. Army in 1978.
“Ed will go out of his way to help a veteran in need and lives by the motto of ‘Veterans helping Veterans.’” Burgess said in her nomination. “He served on the Minority Veterans Council as Kauai’s representative for four years, and has been a member of the Veterans Council for 31 years, eight of those years serving as Kauai’s representative.”
Kawamura is the current commandant for the Kauai Veterans Council.
“Ed is active with the Disabled Veterans, which will be holding its convention here later this month, and is the sole volunteer driver to transport ambulatory veterans to VA clinic appointments if they have no other means of transportation,” she said. “He assists with the Wounded Warrior Program as Kauai’s liaison and remains involved with key stakeholders on the local, state and federal levels.”
Kawamura remains busy and active in the family business, M. Kawamura Farm Enterprises which will host its annual home and farm expo, May 13-14. He also is a supporter of his grandchildren’s 4-H club.
Simbre-Medeiros was nominated by Melissa Sugai of the King Kamehameha Day celebration.
“Shirley is a true blessing to the 2013 King Kamehameha Celebration on Kauai,” Sugai said. “She really came though in a pinch, completing 30 pa‘u rider outfits consisting of tops and sashes in just two weeks time.”
Simbre-Medeiros has volunteered for many different functions across the island, assisting keiki to kupuna in varying capacities from special events coordinator to cooking and sewing — whatever is necessary to get the job done, Sugai said.
Some of these include the Kekaha Pop Warner Association, Kekaha Elementary School, the Emmalani Festival, the Banana Poka Round-Up Festival, Waimea Boys & Girls Club, and special education students.
“Shirley is presently helping the Kilohana Canoe Club with its project of building a traditional hale near the mouth of the Waimea River,” Sugai said. “With the help of Kauai Economic Opportunities, Shirley coordinates kupuna to act as greeters for the cruise ships that dock at Nawiliwili Harbor.”
Simbre-Medeiros is currently employed by Alu Like, Inc. as a program specialist III.