Hawai‘i County Opens New Pāhoa Senior Center
Puna’s kūpuna were swinging to the oldies Monday morning during the blessing and dedication ceremony for Hawai‘i County’s new Pāhoa Senior Center.
Mayor Billy Kenoi and Puna Councilman Fred Blas welcomed more than 200 people, many of them area seniors. The Senior Center, in the heart of Pāhoa, is the former Pāhoa Fire Station which Hawai‘i Carpenters Union apprentices and County personnel transformed into a community gathering place. The station was vacated when Pāhoa’s firefighters moved to a new $5.3 million fire station in 2009.
The convenient location in the center of town will be used to provide a variety of classes and programs offered by the Department of Parks and Recreation’s Elderly Activities Division, including Senior ID, Senior Employment, and the RSVP volunteer program.
It’s the most beautiful facility of its kind on the island, Councilman Blas told the audience members.
“Our seniors can play, can work and can enjoy our center,” he said, adding Mayor Kenoi’s can-do attitude is responsible for completing the renovation project that frees up the Pāhoa Community Center for keiki Summer Fun Programs and other activities.
Mayor Kenoi said he’s proud of the County’s senior programs and the hard working employees who make them and projects like the Pāhoa Senior Center possible.
“Our senior programs in every community – Ka‘ū, Kohala, Kona, Hilo, Waimea, Puna – are fantastic programs because of fantastic people. It makes you really proud,” Mayor Kenoi said.
“All of this that we’re here today to celebrate is because of the wonderful people, both in the County and in the community, all working together. When people put aside differences and we work together to take care of our kūpuna, it’s a good thing,” Mayor Kenoi said, noting he’s proud to be from Puna.
He credited Councilman Blas, along with former Councilwoman Emily Nae‘ole and former Councilman Gary Safarik, for having helped deliver the improved services to Puna’s seniors.
Noting it was a day to give, Mayor Kenoi said work has started to develop a $5.5 million, 56-acre Pāhoa Regional Park that will be the “nicest on the island.”
Among those publically recognized was Puna’s own living legend – and the most senior member of the Pāhoa Senior Club – Saramae Landers, 106 years young.
Father Joey Ranjo of Sacred Heart Church delivered the blessing, while Dan Nicks aka “Elvis Presley,” Puna Men’s Chorus, Ernie Cruz, Alu Like Senior Group and the Pāhoa Senior Ukulele Class under the direction of Nohealani Sarong entertained the crowd.
The No. 1 Chinese BBQ, L&L Drive-Inn, Luquins Mexican Restaurant, Bryson’s Cinders, Paul’s Repair Service and Gas Station, Pāhoa Cash & Carry Store, Sanford’s Service Center Inc., Madie Greene, and Councilman Blas all donated food for the event. Stanley Oishi from Big Rock Anthurium furnished flowers, while Nā Kāne volunteers helped with the event.