Yoshiko “Dimples” Kano and Russell Maeda were announced as Kaua‘i’s Outstanding Older Americans Thursday during a celebration that encompassed the capabilities of Zoom and a drive-thru ceremony at the Lihu‘e Civic Center.
The annual celebration of older Americans was scaled back due to COVID-19, but continued to celebrate the positive impact na kupuna make in and around the island to build strength and resilience.
“This year’s Older Americans Month theme, ‘Communities of Strength,’ recognizes the important role older adults play in fostering the connection and engagement that build strong, resilient communities,” said Mayor Derek Kawakami in a proclamation presented to each of the seven Kaua‘i nominees.
“Kaua‘i can foster ‘communities of strength’ by creating opportunities to share stories and learn from each other, engaging older adults through education, recreation and service, and encouraging people of all ages to celebrate connections and resilience.”
Kano has the true heart of a servant, states her nominator Nikki Cristobal, a fellow Zonta Club of Kaua‘i member.
Kano has been a member of the Zonta Club of Kaua‘i and the Zonta Club of Kaua‘i Foundation for nearly 50 years, holding many different offices and positions, including chairing Zonta/The Garden Island Christmas Fund for the past 25 years that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for those in need.
Kano has also been involved with the Kaua‘i Salvation Army since 1974 in several executive positions. Kano chaired the Thanksgiving community lunch for the past 10 years, providing Thanksgiving lunch to hundreds of individuals and families each year. She also has been a driving force behind the Kokua Soup Kitchen that provides weekly meals to people facing food insecurity, and more.
Because of her countless hours of support, the Kaua‘i Salvation Army has deemed her a lifetime member of the advisory board.
Kano has also been active with the Kaua‘i United Way since 1976 as an active board member, and now as an honorary board member. Additionally, she is active with the Kapa‘a Hongwanji Mission, and more.
In 2011, the Kaua‘i Museum recognized Dimples as a Living Treasure for her extensive community leadership and volunteerism.
“Although Dimples will most likely never retire, prior to this phase of her life she worked as a clerk for Lihu‘e Plantation for 25 years, and then attained her real estate license, making her the second Japanese woman to become a licensed real estate agent,” Cristobal said. “Additionally, she has also been an active member and executive leader for the Kaua‘i Board of Realtors.”
Mary Kay Hertog, the nominator for Maeda, said “Russell is a humble and giving person, a true leader motivated by making a difference in his community.”
Maeda served as treasurer for the Kaua‘i Veterans Council since 2014, and was instrumental in securing CARES Act funding to bring back furloughed workers and keep the Kaua‘i Veterans Center open for use by veterans, churches and the general public.
“Russell is ‘all in’ when it comes time to make life better for our veterans, and he embodies ‘serve before self,’” Hertog said.
Maeda took the lead for several fundraisers, including a truck giveaway where the raised funds covered expenses to paint the inside of the Kaua‘i Veterans Center, retile the Purple Heart Room, replace air conditioning, buy a new ice machine and start renovations on the Silver/Bronze Star Room.
He chaired the Kaua‘i Veterans Day Parade from 2016 to 2019, organizing the parade with 800 participants and recruited volunteers. His attention to detail made these parades a fun success. Most importantly, it honors our veterans for their service and sacrifice.
Maeda’s volunteerism extends beyond working with veterans, having served as president, secretary and chaplain for the Kaua‘i Association of the United Church of Christ. He is currently the treasurer, and is also chair of the board of trustees for Lihu‘e Christian Church.
Maeda was also a member of the Kiwanis Club of Kaua‘i from 1984 to 2016. The Kiwanis oversees the Key Clubs at both Kaua‘i and Kapa‘a high schools.
Experienced in architectural design, drafting and construction, Maeda worked with Kaua‘i Builders Ltd. from 1972 until 2002 as part-owner, and served as the president of Kaua‘i Builders from 1999 to 2002 before joining SSFM International from 2003 to 2016, when he retired as a construction manager.
Other honorees contending for Most Outstanding Older Americans include Shirley Akita, who was nominated by Wilma Chandler of the Kaua‘i Retired and Senior Volunteer Program Advisory Board; Anita Aquino, who was nominated by Aida Shen of Kaua‘i Economic Opportunity; Brian Kasperek, nominated by Colleen Kasperek of AARP Taxaide; Crescencia Labuguen, nominated by Katherine Alisna of St. Catherine Church and its the Filipino Catholic Club; and Leonora Lizama, nominated by Anne Miyamoto of the Foster Grandparents Program.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.