Oahu senior center struggling - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Oahu senior center struggling

Jerry Rauckhorst Jerry Rauckhorst
Mitsuko Horiuchi Mitsuko Horiuchi

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

KALIHI (KHNL) - Times are tough for many agencies that rely on money from the state. That includes an important place for Oahu seniors, that could closed its doors because of cutbacks.

The goal of Hawaii's only state owned senior center, is keeping seniors healthy, active and independent. But now many are frustrated over their future, as money is cut for the Lanakila center.

Mitsuko Horiuchi spends most of her days at the Lanakila senior center.

In fact, she believes getting out and taking part in the center's activities has helped her live to be 92 years old.

"We need places to go, most of us are widows and we have no one at home. We either stay at home alone or we go to the care home," said the Kalihi resident.

There are around 2000 seniors who use the center. Which provides fitness and fun events. But most importantly it provides fellowship and a connection with others, for Hawaii's elderly.

Now, that lifeline for seniors is in danger itself. Funding has dried up and Catholic Charities, which runs the center, is running out of options.

"When you talk about cutting back, you talk about cutting staff which means you slash programs," said Jerry Rauckhorst, with Catholic Charities Hawaii.

Without the grant money the center has received in the past, the doors could close, either some of the time or for good.

"Its only the state that has the responsibility or authority to take whatever actions - which could include closing the center if the dollars aren't there," added Rauckhorst.

So these seniors rally around the center that has been a part of their community for forty years.

Many rely on the mental and physical stimulation they get here. And according to Mitsuko, closing the Lanakila center could mean the end for some of the very seniors fighting to keep it open.

"I die at home. You stay at home talking to no one, its awful. You feel as if you were neglected and nobody loves you," said Horiuchi.

Of the center's nearly $400,000 budget, the state has committed about $120,000. The rest would have to be made up with donations or the center will face operational cuts.

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