Family donates $10,000 to Mahelona

KAPAA — Happiness and reasons to celebrate come in many different forms, the staff of the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital learned Monday.

Joyce Nishimura, daughter of the late Kiyoto and Yatsu Okimoto, extended her vacation from Washington to present the Mahelona Hospital Auxiliary with a check for $10,000 in memory of her parents.

Yatsu spent her final two years with the residents who were decked out in lei amidst a scattering of floral arrangements in the hospital’s solarium.

“This is a happy place,” Nishimura said while greeting familiar residents. “This money represents offerings and koden from people and should go to benefit people here.”

Josie Pablo, hospital recreation director, said part of the donation will be used for flowers because Yatsu enjoyed flowers. The flowers will come in the form of framed paintings from artist Marcia Ishii Minnichhofer and hung on the walls of the hospital’s new dining facility and solarium.

“Flowers do a lot for the residents,” Pablo said. “Today, they’re wearing lei from Elaine Morita’s memorial service. The flower arrangements are from flowers from her service Saturday. Elaine’s last wish was to share the flowers with the residents, and she even had a lei tree for people to place lei (on) which would come to the residents.”

Morita was a staff member at Mahelona whose career was cut short after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Despite her retirement, she continued to come and help with events for the residents.

Pablo said the Okimoto family grant will be used to get the floral prints as well as have curtains installed in the solarium.

“We have a lot we can do,” Pablo said. “I’ve always wanted an activity box in the dining room where residents can engage in different activities while waiting on their meals. And, we could always use a public address system for music at the different activities. We’ll see how far this goes.”

Kiyoto Okimoto was the store manager for the Kress Store in Lihue, and following its closure, became the circulation manager for The Kauai Times which was eventually acquired by The Garden Island newspaper.

“He really enjoyed working for the paper,” Nishimura said. “It kept him busy and on the go.”

Yatsu Okimoto is best known as being an assistant manager for Hilo Hattie.

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