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Albao, Kasperek named outstanding seniors

LIHU‘E — State Rep. Nadine Nakamura, representing Kaua‘i’s legislative team, knows first-hand the impact older Americans have in the communities they live in.

During the legislative sessions, Nakamura spends time with her mother on O‘ahu, where mom does a lot of things for her, including washing and folding her clothes.

Nakamura was among the list of government officials who gathered at the Lihu‘e Civic Center Mo‘ikeha Building rotunda Friday to acknowledge and recognize 10 of Kaua‘i’s outstanding kupuna who were each nominated by community members for their impact and work they do.

“Every May, as part of Older Americans Month, we pay tribute to adults 65 and older who continue to play vital, positive roles in our communities, and have made exceptional contributions as family members, friends, mentors, volunteers, civic leaders, members of the workforce and much more,” said county Agency on Elderly Affairs Executive on Aging Kealoha Takahashi.

“We are grateful to recognize and honor our outstanding kupuna in person this year, together with their ‘ohana and friends.”

Timothy Albao, Sofia Castro, Martin Costales, Greg Iten, Coleen Kasperek, Aida Padilla-Cruz, Lydia Rebugio, Sonia Song, Jan Sueoka and Sandy Takaezu were nominated as Kaua‘i 2022 Outstanding Older Americans.

Each of the kupuna were presented special certificates, lei and custom awards by the government dignitaries under the canopy of music provided by guitarist Paul Togioka.

“This year’s Older Americans Month theme, ‘Age My Way,’ shows that just as every person is unique, so is how they age and how they choose to do it because there is no ‘right’ way,” reads the May being Older American Month proclamation presented by county Finance Department Director Reiko Matsuyama, who stood in for Mayor Derek Kawakami, who was unable to attend the festivities in person.

“Every year, more and more older Americans are making a positive impact in and around our island, contributing their strength, wisdom and experience to our community,” the proclamation reads.

Matsuyama also announced Albao and Kasperek as the Kaua‘i Outstanding Older Americans who, traditionally, make the trek to O‘ahu for a luncheon with the governor with other islands’ outstanding older Americans.

Albao, whose personal philosophy on volunteering is “It’s the best work of life,” was also not able to attend the festivities in person despite his continuing efforts of keeping things moving during the pandemic, such as continuing the Retired Senior Volunteer Program annual recognition of its volunteers from a sit-down lunch to a drive-thru event, and holding the Hawai‘i Government Employees Association groups together by assisting in educating the membership and encouraging them on the Zoom computer platform. He was nominated and represented by Gerald Ako, retired HGEA Kaua‘i head and a member of the RSVP corps.

Kasperek’s impact for countless Kaua‘i residents is immeasurable through her work with the AARP Tax-Aide Program, where she has been the district coordinator and instructor since 2007.

Since 2014, Kasperek has been a Disaster Action Team member for the American Red Cross, and often is among the first people at a disaster site to provide comfort and assistance to those in need. She is also an active member of Holy Cross Church, where she’s served on the Parish Pastoral Council for many years.

“Congratulations to all of this year’s nominees, and mahalo for the incredible contributions you’ve made over the years,” Kawakami said in a statement. “We thank you all for supporting one another and continuing to inspire us in the ways you give back to our community, and in your dedication to serve others before yourselves.”


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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