News and Events:
Outstanding Older American 2021 Winners
May is recognized as Older American’s Month. The state of Hawai’i celebrates by honoring Outstanding Older Americans from each county. These individuals are nominated by their communities for the work and effort they put forth to make their communities stronger. Below are the Outstanding Older Americans representing Hawaii County.
If you would like to view the Outstanding Older American Recognition ceremony, please visit: https://youtu.be/GxPOP98lq5s or https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/tyxL44YK8C
On behalf of the Hawaii County Office of Aging and the communities that you help and serve,
Mahalo Nui and Congratulations to this year’s Outstanding Older American winners!
Hawaii County Office of Aging Representative: Wayne Kawachi (Pahala, 74)
Wayne Kawachi is truly an incredible individual. He is a retired commercial fisherman, a highly efficient member of his community in the district of Ka’u and a wonderful family man.
He is the current President and founding board member of the local non-profit, O Ka’u Kakou (OKK), the President of the Ka’u Hospital Charitable Foundation and the President of the Pahala Hongwanji Mission.
In 2020, Wayne became a “Brawny Giant” for his contributions to the community. This award from Brawny Paper Towel Company resulted in a $10,000 donation to O Ka’u Kakou.
Under Wayne’s leadership, OKK sponsors 4 large annual community events as fundraisers for their community service projects. These include the Keiki Fishing Tournament, the Veteran’s Day celebration, the July 4th Parade Celebration/ Keiki Fun Day, and the Ka’u Coffee Trail Run.
In January 2018, Wayne raised $75,000 towards a proposed Na’alehu Senior Housing project by walking 100 miles in rubber slippers from Paauilo to Na’alehu. Statewide, he became known as “da Rubbah Slippa Guy” after appearing in numerous news reports following his walk.
His continued support and dedication in providing for his community needs in food, equipment for the emergency room at the hospital, and the revival of the annual Bon Dance Festival is but a few of his outstanding community accomplishments. The Pahala Hongwanji Bon Dance now coincides with the Ka’u High School Reunion event held annually for all classes. For his incredible energy and deep sense of community, Wayne Kawachi is an Outstanding Senior to our Ka’u community. His positive attitude and “Can-Do” spirit are a big part of why he is such a great community leader. Ka’u is lucky to have him!
Hawaii County Office of Aging Representative: Annie Kuamo’o Ka’aukai (Pahoa, 76)
Annie hails from the Puna district of Hawai’i island and grew up on Pohoiki Beach. She remembers waking up at 3:00AM, getting into a canoe with her dad and sister when they were young, and catching fish- arriving back on land before sunrise and off to school she went!
Annie loves to cook and bake and loves the ocean. She has been providing her special dishes (‘Ake and Hawaiian food from scratch) to various groups, community, and family members all her life.
In 2005, she joined the Pahoa Nutrition Congregate program and is also a member of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and the Alu Like Program (Pahoa Site).
She has been the Pahoa Nutrition President for the past three years and is famous for her homemade specialty cakes (made from scratch with lots of aloha). She assists with food distributions and volunteers at the Pahoa Food Pantry and the Food Basket warehouse. She says that volunteer work is fun and keeps her active and healthy. Knowing that she is helping others is her passion.
Annie is a Master Weaver and specializes in Hawaiian craft such as: lauhala and niu (coconut) weaving, weaving Hawaiian ti leaf sandals (Hawaiian beach tabi) and cordage made out of ulehala, hau, coconut fiber, and olona, and creating throw nets, regular fishnets, and cross nets.
At 76 years old, she embodies the Hawaiian phrase, “Kokua aku, kokua mai (give help, get help)”. Her vitality and continued volunteer service allow her to share her lifetime of talent, experience, skill and hobbies with the community. By helping her community, she in turn has stayed physically active and established important social connections.