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Volunteers help Waimea hospital patients have fun in sun

HANAPEPE — Norman Nitta was tending to his mother, Hisako Nitta, who will be turning 101 years old, shortly.

“This is my first time doing this, and I thought everybody was going to be here,” Norman said Tuesday at Salt Pond Beach Park. “My mom wants to swim, but she didn’t bring her swimsuit so we’ll just watch.”

Hisako smiled in the warm Hanapepe sunshine.

“Age is just a number,” she said. “The weather is nice, and everyone is having fun.”

Joanna Nishimura, recreation director at the Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital, said nearly two dozen KVMH residents were joined by 10 residents from the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital to enjoy a day at the beach with the help of volunteers.

“This is a great opportunity for families to get together and enjoy the day at the beach,” Nishimura said. “We get a lot of help from the community to make this happen at lease once a year for the residents. Nobue Watanabe, one of our residents, was so excited about coming, she was actually crying with happiness when she went into the water.”

Major Victor Aguilar, Waimea JROTC director, said he had 23 cadets volunteering at the beach.

“A lot of these residents are totally dependent on you so we try to get more than one student for each resident,” he said.

The Kauai Bus provided additional transportation support to get the residents to the beach.

“This is a really good thing they do for the residents,” said Moises Labuguen, a Kauai Bus driver. “I also do this for KORE, and sometimes get the Mahelona Hospital. It’s really good for the residents to get out.”

Douglas Fu was one of the passengers on Labuguen’s bus.

“Look at him,” said Tracy Fu. “He sees us. He was so excited about this excursion, and wanted to be the first in the water. He grew up in Anini and the beach was part of his life. He just loves this. Once he gets in, we have to worry about him sharing.”

Becky Rowe wish her mom could have been at Salt Pond Beach Park Tuesday.

“We took pictures, a lot of pictures,” Rowe said. “Our mom is 93 years old and in Pennsylvania. But she would have loved to have been here, and we would have loved to volunteer.”

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