Senior centers could become a casualty of shrinking state dollars - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

AlohaCare Monthly Check Up: Senior centers could become a casualty of shrinking state dollars

Albert Lum Albert Lum
Bill Madigan Bill Madigan
Rose Yanagawa Rose Yanagawa

By Tannya Joaquin - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lanakila Multi-Purpose Senior Center is the largest in the state-- and needs to raise $115,000 to stay open through June.

"I'm here almost every day 8 hours a day" says Jean Sugihara, a Lanakila member for 10 years.

2000 seniors like her keep their bodies and brains active-- at the Lanakila.

"It gives me a reason to get up in the morning" explains new member Rose Yanagawa.

Albert Lum agrees.

"Sometimes I have a hard time getting up" says Lum. "But to come to this place, I look forward to it. Great here for our mental health."

He's afraid the center will have to close without the money needed to keep the place running.

Caroline Tom has been coming to the center for nearly 20 years.

She says "it concerns all of us. We all worry that the funding. It's going to close down. What are we going to do?"

"The funding, that's sad" concurs Bill Madigan. "This place is such a jewel."

Madigan joined Lanakila, doctor's orders. For him, the classes and camaraderie are nice. But it's more than a hang out.His health depends on it.

He takes calligraphy and says it's great for muscle control. "I'm amazed at how difficult it is mentally and physically. It's great for me because of Parkinsons."

Doctor Rio Banner, Medical Director for AlohaCare, stresses the need for activity as we age.

"The way the nervous system works" explains Dr. Banner "the connection to the muscles, thereby the joints and the ability to move, if they're not exercised, those chemical reactions don't occur. They all slow down."

He says the alternative is one we can't afford.

In Dr. Banner's words "instead a person gets progressively incapacitated, can't get up and become ill."

The center counts on money from the Legislature each year-- but that funding dried up-- with the recession. 

Catholic Charities Hawaii hopes that donors will pitch in to save the center.

"Because of our center," says Catholic Charities CEO Jerry Raukhorst, "they remain active, healthy, don't need institutional placement and in the long run, it's very cost effective."

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