BY ADRIENNE KING – I traveled to Maui for the Aloha Kapuna Luncheon put on by Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc. Maui Economic Opportunity is an organization that provides people with the tools to get through any difficult time in their life.

Whether a person needs a ride to the doctor, or a friendly counselor, Maui Economic Opportunity is there to help. This luncheon is held every year specifically to honor Maui’s seniors.

It took place at the Grand Wailea with a wonderful Hawaiian lunch and music by Touch of Gold, which got several seniors and yours truly, the only GOP candidate for Lieutenant Governor in attendance, dancing with them.

Around 800 people, including 50 candidates were in attendance, including Lt. Governor Duke Aiona, former Congressman Neil Abercrombie, former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, all the Democrat candidates for Lieutenant Governor, the mayor of Maui, other mayoral candidates, candidates for Maui County Council, and the Maui State House and Senate races. We were all introduced and given time to address the attendees.

I also spoke at the candidate’s forum at the Kohala Senior Center in Kapa’au. Both Democrat candidates were there, plus four Democrat Lieutenant Governor candidates, two state house candidates, and three County Council candidates. I was the only GOP candidate for Lieutenant Governor present.

We all spoke and answered questions and it was interesting to hear both Hanneman and Abercrombie tell the packed house of about 80 people why the other one should not be governor. I took notes. The pot luck lunch donated by all the candidates provided us with a great opportunity to talk personally with the seniors. Interestingly, one of their biggest concerns was the proposed closing of the Kohala Middle School and the negative impact it would have on their grandchildren.

The challenge to care for our growing senior population is apparent. Seniors need transportation, effective health care and either excellent extended care facilities or visits in their home by trained people to make sure they are ok, taking their meds and eating well. Government programs may help, but are not enough. We as a community need to create, foster, and encourage with tax incentives, youth participation, volunteers in community and church networks ideas and actions that honor our kapuna.

I know the stress caring for aging parents and relatives can put on families. My mom had a hemorrhagic stroke and then a ruptured appendix months later. She developed dementia which worsened with age. It was hard on the entire family seeing this wonderful vibrant woman decline in this fashion. We had to step in for my grieving my dad to hire women to come in to help until she passed.

Sadly, my dad died three months to the day of my mom. We all knew mom called him and he finally gave in and went to join her. They carry on through me and my three siblings. Our kapuna never stopped caring for us, we must never stop caring for them. God expects nothing less.

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