Kuakini’s top volunteer serves with endless vigor

(Via Star Advertiser)

You can’t put a price on what volunteer Lillian Takeda does for the Kua­kini Health System, but you could certainly fill out one heck of a timecard.

Takeda, 77, has been donating her time to the Kua­kini geriatric care facility since 1995. The last time anyone counted, back in December, she had contributed 21,634 hours of service — the equivalent of working 40 hours a week for more than 10 years without a break. Takeda’s tally is tops among the health system’s irreplaceable corps of more than 400 volunteers.

“I enjoy coming here,” she says. “I would like to keep doing this as long as I can. I keep going.”

Takeda and her mother used to come to the facility to help take care of Takeda’s aunt. Takeda would often handle the feeding duties.

When her aunt died, Takeda, recently retired after a long career in the Department of Education, was asked whether she’d like to continue coming as a volunteer.

These days Takeda leads exercise classes for residents of the care facility.

One recent Tuesday class finds Takeda guiding a class of 20 residents through series of brain-rousing, blood-pumping exercises.

In one exercise, seated residents loft and catch a small beanbag.

“Breathe in, breathe out” Takeda says. “Now march, march, march!”

The class, still seated, dutifully lifts their feet — left, right, left, right — in perfect cadence.

Then it’s time for the class to pick their favorite drills.

“Wake the brain up,” one says, and the group responds by tapping their heads with splayed fingers.

“Row, row, row your boat!” another calls out, and the class rows imaginary oars while singing the familiar song, some in English, others in Japa­nese.

At Takeda’s prompting, the beaming seniors fold their arms like chicken wings and flap.

“Kokke-kokko,” Takeda calls.

“Megasameta!” the class responds.

Takeda leads the class twice a week. She also spends time feeding patients as part of the facility’s trained Meal Brigade.

But that’s not all. Takeda also volunteers at the Moiliili Senior Center, helps with a weekly hana­fuda card group and works long hours at home sewing napkins, blankets and scarves for Kua­kini Home residents and knitting caps and booties for newborns at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children. She and her husband, Fred, also care for their son, who has emphysema, and spend as much time as possible with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“Every day is full,” Takeda says. “I like it that way.”

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer at Kua­kini Health System may call 547-9184 or visitwww.kua­kini.org.

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