Rose Nakamura honored with Honolulu Forever Young award

Rose Nakamura
Rose Nakamura

By Tracy Gladden - bio | email

MAILILI (KHNL) - The first annual Honolulu Forever Young awards, honor dynamic leaders, who, through selfless giving, have found the secret to being forever young.

Monday, we meet Rose Nakamura.

She started "Project Dana" after retiring, and next year, the non-profit will celebrate it's 20th anniversary.

"A smile, a touch a warm touch, I think can make a big difference in somebody's life," said Nakamura.

She's a teacher, caregiver, and volunteer.

Rose Nakamura has mentored young people and nurtured elderly folks throughout her career.

Her leadership and career success comes from her parents.

Growing up in Hilo, when a neighbor was widowed her parents stepped in.

"For ten years, she shared her dinner with this family," said Nakamura.  "It's those little things, small acts of kindness that we were brought up and we've seen. That was a wonderful, for me, learning experience to see that happen."

She taught health and physical education at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

"As a result of my interest in having international students at Hilo I was able to obtain a position at the East West center working with international students."

Until she retired she worked at the center for 25 years.

Then she began her second career

"We don't see the frail elderly at our church coming anymore why don't we help. Why don't we offer some assistance in their homes."

With a small group of volunteers she co-founded Project Dana

It's an interfaith volunteer caregiver's program.

"To welcome a group of churches that truly believe in their faith because selfless giving is very universal in every faith."

The project provides services to the elderly and disabled to ensure their independence.

"There are many frail elders who are isolated in our community."

Project Dana now has a coalition of 33 churches and more than 750 volunteers and has received countless awards.

And those who know Rose say she's a visionary beyond her time.

Rose lectures throughout Japan and the United States to motivate and promote volunteerism.