Honoring those who cared for us

Keeping kūpuna healthy and independent at home is our mission at Hawai‘i Meals on Wheels, and it’s satisfying to know we have brought comfort and wellness to the lives of so many – at every stage of their lives.

For Elsie Hashimoto, a retired nurse, active senior living meant staying connected to her community by volunteering at Kuakini Medical Center. For her husband, Robert, independence meant maintaining a vibrant social life – playing poker with his 100th Battalion friends, enjoying time with family, and watching UH sports.

Hawai‘i Meals on Wheels allowed the Pauoa Valley residents to thrive and age gracefully. Robert could receive nutritious, home-delivered meals while Elsie volunteered. It gave her peace of mind knowing that she had the support of delivery volunteers to check in on her husband while she was away from home.

“Dad enjoyed sitting in the carport waiting for his meals to be delivered, and he loved to talk story with the volunteer driver as much as he loved the meals,” their daughter Susan Hashimoto recalled.

Susan Hashimoto pictured with her parents Robert and Elsie Hashimoto

Susan and her husband Rick Tabor were living in Seattle when they received news about her father’s fall that resulted in a broken hip.

“After living with or nearby my parents for much of my life and then being on the mainland as they aged was hard for me,” Susan confided. “When you’re not with someone and only see them once or twice a year, the changes are quite noticeable.”

Susan and her family were comforted knowing that Hawai‘i Meals on Wheels volunteers continued to stay in touch, checking in on Elsie even after her husband moved in to an assisted living community and after he passed away in 2008.

Susan and Rick’s wedding in 1995 with Susan’s parents and family members

It was 20 years ago when her father starting receiving home-delivered meals, but Susan and Rick feel as connected as ever to Hawai‘i Meals on Wheels.

When they moved back to Hawai’i in 2017, Susan wanted to give back to the organization that gave so much life and love to her parents. Susan and Rick signed up to volunteer, and now they look forward to talking story with clients in the doorways and carports.

Throughout the pandemic, Susan and Rick continued to volunteer and currently serve kūpuna on the Makua Ali‘i route in Honolulu – providing them with hot meals every Thursday.
“While so much has changed, we haven’t let COVID become a barrier to connecting with our clients,” Susan shared. “We can see their eyes light up when they open their doors and can imagine their big grins from behind their masks.”

“We’ve seen first-hand how food insecurity and isolation can lead to serious health issues,” added Rick, who also serves as a Hawai‘i Meals on Wheels Board Member. “Hawai‘i Meals on Wheels is constantly responding to the ever-changing landscape of challenges kūpuna face.”

Rick and Susan encourage those who are considering volunteering.

Susan and Rick deliver meals to kūpuna on their Thursday route

“We’re out delivering for just 90 minutes once a week, and we feel so appreciated by clients, staff and other volunteers,” Rick shared. “Sharing this route together, our relationship is strengthened every day. When we were young adults, Susan and I worked together serving adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. So, volunteering today brings us full circle!”

Thanks to our generous supporters and dedicated volunteers like Susan and Rick, we’ve been able to provide healthy meals, human connection, and a watchful eye for hundreds of kūpuna.
But our work has just begun. We still need to safely serve kūpuna in need throughout this pandemic and long into the future.

Meeting the needs of isolated kūpuna would not be possible without your support. Mahalo for helping us deliver much more than meals. Your gift will bring hope and a sense of self- empowerment to every one we serve.

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