The Hawaii Pacific Gerontological Society has selected “active aging” advocate Dr. Cullen Hayashida as the guest of honor for its annual scholarship fundraising event, to be held on the evening that this Herald issue comes out, Friday, Nov. 6. For the fourth year in a row, HPGS will offer a special evening of entertainment and education to advance its mission: “to enhance the general well-being of older individuals in Hawaiʻi,” says Executive Director Sherry Goya.
“This year’s Scholarship Fundraiser honors gerontologist, Dr. Cullen Hayashida, who, over the past 40+ years, has helped to develop over 50 elder care service projects in hospital, nursing home, home care, college and community settings,” explains Goya of her organization’s choice of Hayashida. “His work as an educator-researcher and program developer have been directed towards two objectives: (1) to find cost-effective caregiving solutions in the least restrictive environment; and (2) to advocate for older adults as assets to the community.
“HPGS is grateful to Dr. Hayashida for serving as this year’s ambassador to promote the need to invest in Hawaii’s future generation of students in the field of aging.”
In what promises to be a fun evening held over Zoom, Hayashida will be introduced by Hawaiʻi Creole English entertainer Frank Delima, the night’s emcee and “Hawaii’s Favorite Son.” The Hawaiian-Portuguese comedian has recently put his funnybone-tickling talents towards public-health-related PSAs and community medical issues, including those related to diabetes and COVID-19.
The event begins at 5:30 p.m., and its proceeds will go towards a wide range of awards, including funding for students in the University of Hawaiʻi system, Hawaiʻi Pacific University, Chaminade University and Brigham Young University-Hawaiʻi, who are committed to pursuing work related to aging, long-term care and/or death and dying. “Each year,” explains Goya, “HPGS awards scholarships to students enrolled in paraprofessional training, undergraduate and graduate programs in Hawaii, who have a serious interest in professional work related to aging, and long-term care.”
Depending on these fundraising efforts, HPGS scholarships can additionally help support eldercare workers’ training, as well as the studies of nursing undergraduate students and masters students in social work and nursing programs. For more information on these scholarships and awards, see hpgs.org/scholarships.html.
Reporter Diane Ako, who interviewed the 75-year-old Hayashida for an Oct. 1 written report on KITV’s website, traced the start of his gerontological career to Kuakini Medical Center (see kitv.com/story/42713835/aging-well-moanalua-senior-awarded-for-his-work-in-field-of-geriatrics). “He addressed the hospital’s need to create an improved system of discharge,” she said, noting that Hayashida connected the hospital with outside infrastructures such as homes and community-based services. He later worked for Maluhia Long-Term Care Health Center, in the field of eldercare service evaluation, helping the institution improve and make more cost-effective its treatment of kūpuna.
Hayashida is a respected gerontologist in no small part due to his foresight in anticipating the shortage of healthcare specialists in Hawaiʻi, well ahead of the crowd. In the early 2000s, he started organizing the community towards establishing the islands’ first gerontology center for community colleges, the Kupuna Education Center at Kapi’olani Community College (continuinged.kapiolani.hawaii.edu/kupuna-education-center/). According to a KaimukiHawaii.com article written by KCC faculty Kahikahealani Wight, the Hawai‘i State Legislature established the Center in 2006, to deal with the so-called “Tsunami of Aging. ” Compared to the mainland, where only a few states have experienced elderly growth rates higher than those in our state, the Baby Boomer population in Hawai‘i has been retiring in droves from the 2010s onward. Founded by Hayashida, the Kupuna Education Center aimed to train more local paraprofessional workers to assist the elderly, to help generate more Hawaiʻi jobs in the field.
According to Ako, for the past two decades, Hayashida has shifted his emphasis to active aging, a framework that views elderly people as community assets and the aging process as an extension of well care. By embracing active aging, the gerontologist has recommended that pre-retirees and others entering their elderly years should strive to keep contributing, engaging actively and above all, staying healthy.
In an Oct. 28 follow-up interview with Ako on the KITV nightly news, Hayashida told the reporter why he champions active aging whenever speaking at local hospitals, nursing homes and home care settings. “If we don’t do more than just be retired and just remain at home and watch television all day (and…television is a good thing, of course)…I think that’ll result in us becoming sick,” he explained, noting that this is not only a responsibility of those health institutions but of the seniors themselves.
Those interested in virtually attending the fundraiser, and hearing Hayashida’s guest of honor speech, can register at hpgs.org/events.html. If, on the Nov. 6 event date, prospective attendees have trouble signing up on this website or getting the Zoom link, they can reach Goya at (808) 722-8487 or email@example.com to access the streaming event.
Donations for the fundraiser will be collected through Monday, Nov. 30, at hpgs.org/events.html, where supporters can check off whether they wish to attend the Nov. 6 fundraiser (paying suggested donations of $50, $100 or other amounts, and receiving the link), to donate money towards these scholarship efforts, or to do both. For those who prefer to mail a check, fill out the form on that webpage, then click on PRINT BUTTON. Send form and check to HPGS, PO Box 3714, Honolulu, HI 96812; email or call Goya with any questions.
At this year’s Hawai‘i Book and Music Festival, the Hawai‘i Literary Arts Council awarded the Eliot Cades Award for Literature to budding novelist Scott Kikkawa and the Loretta D. Petrie Award to longtime multi-genre writer and English professor Juliet S. Kono. On Sunday, Oct. 4, in the festival’s virtual ceremony, yonsei Kikkawa received the Cades, recognizing him as a notable emerging writer, and Kono the Petrie, acknowledging the decades of substantial contributions she has made to the local creative-writing community as an editor, poet, fiction author, creative-writing teacher, literary-event organizer and writing mentor.
Hawai‘i-based Kikkawa, an author in the detective-noir genre, was raised in Hawai‘i Kai by parents from Pauoa and Kaka‘ako. Earning his BA from New York University in Islamic studies, he is now a federal law enforcement officer — a professional crime-buster who has long loved reading classic U.S. noir authors such as Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. After publishing his short fiction in “Bamboo Ridge: Journal of Hawai‘i Literature and Arts,” Kikkawa put out debut novel “Kona Winds” via Bamboo Ridge Press in November 2019. According to BR Press, Kona Winds is a “hard-boiled noir murder mystery set in Honolulu in 1953, with Hawai‘i evolving from a racially stratified, near-feudal plantation colony to the multi-ethnic 50th state” (bambooridge.org/bookstore/kona-winds/).
It tells the story of Hawai‘i Police Dept. Det. Sgt. Frankie “The Sheik” Yoshikawa, a nisei World War II veteran, who needs to solve the case of a young Japanese woman whose body is discovered under a pier in Honolulu Harbor, amidst the backdrop of recent dock and sugar-plantation strikes and an evolving local society transitioning from the Territorial period to Statehood.
BR Press Board of Directors President Kent Sakoda adds that the press has been struck with how “The ever growing popularity, even beyond the shores of Hawai’i, of his [Kikkawa’s] noir detective fiction … can be attributed to his meticulous research depicting post-war Honolulu of the 1950s and to his skillful and exciting writing ability to engage readers from many divergent backgrounds…”
Kikkawa follows in a relatively recent literary trend that features O‘ahu-raised, tough male protagonists in gritty crime, noir or detective stories. The trend was established by Hawai‘i modern-fiction authors Rodney Morales (“For a Song”), Chris
McKinney (“The Tattoo”) and Alexei Melnick (“Tweakerville”), as well as by the non-fiction writing of former HPD officer Gary Dias (“Honolulu Cop”), who combine Standard English, Hawai‘i Creole English, ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i (the Native Hawaiian language) and the diverse languages of Hawaiʻi’s immigrant communities, to create the story worlds of their novels. Like these writers, Kikkawa deploys the complex political and social history of the islands as a realistic urban backdrop for edgy tales of violence, corruption and culturally based mystery.
Kono, a retired Leeward Community College English faculty member and Buddhist priest, has previously won the Hawai‘i Award for Literature — given annually by HLAC to the most outstanding writer in the islands — in addition to an American Japanese National Literary Award, the U.S./Japan Friendship Commission Creative Artist Exchange Fellowship and also a Ka Palapala Po‘okela Book Award for Literature (for her novel “Anshü: Dark Sorrow,” a part of which we are reprinting in this issue of The Hawai‘i Herald). A seasoned contributor to, and core member of, the Bamboo Ridge (Press) study group, longtime poet Kono has most recently aided BR through facilitating the publication of works by new writers from diverse backgrounds, such as Philippines-born Elmer Omar Pizo, whose “Leaving Our Shadows Behind Us,” was co-edited by Kono and Christy Passion for BR Press.
Kono has built a deep sense of comradeship and community among regular authors of the local literary press, co-creating renshi (linked poems) with other feminist writers of different generations and ethnicities who have been frequently published in Bamboo Ridge. For instance, she published such collaborative lyrical work with fellow Nikkei writers Jean Toyama and Ann Inoshita and with Pinay author Christy Passion, in their book “No Choice to Follow,” a collection of 48 renshi (see the women poets performing a BR audio recording from their book, at youtube.com/watch?v=h9gMipQC2aQ).
“With so many community activities contributed over the years,” marvels Sakoda, “It’s a wonder that Juliet…was able to find time for her own writing career memorializing and giving voice to generations of local Japanese folks from plantation immigrants to American citizens through a wide array of genres – poetry, short stories, a novel, and a children’s story book.”
Raised in Hilo, where, as a child, she survived the 1946 tsunami, Kono has written extensively on the harder aspects of the Japanese American experience — particularly on the lives of Nikkei women — depicting these encounters across multiple generations. Her poetry and fiction have addressed difficult societal issues, giving voice to characters based on ordinary Japanese Americans and other local people whose daily struggles would not have been noted in the literatures of Hawai‘i at the time she had started publishing with BR Press. Her compassionate, Buddhist perspective on the problems endured by people living in the islands and in Japan, such as drug addiction, inter-generational emotional abuse, PTSD and postwar trauma, family dysfunction, and dementia, have been embraced by a variety of yonsei and gosei authors as a literary standard for truth and caring.
In addition to “Anshü” and “No Choice But to Follow,” Kono has written two books of poetry, “Hilo Rains” and “Tsunami Years”; another renshi collection with three other poets, “What We Must Remember”; and another novel, “Ho‘olulu Park and the Pepsodent Smile.” The Herald is always astounded by how she takes her vast and award-winning literary experience, then channels it into teaching the younger generation of Hawai‘i writers, giving back in a way that makes her quite worthy of the Petrie community service award.
HLAC evaluates the Hawai‘i literary and nonfiction book landscape every year, and uses these prestigious awards to honor the most promising and accomplished among writers in the islands. In addition to Kikkawa, another Cades award, for an established writer, went to Native Hawaiian poet Joe Balaz, originally of Wahiawä, a well-respected Hawai‘i Creole English author, and another Petrie Award was given to Don Wallace, Honolulu magazine editor, fiction writer and journalist.