Na Hoaloha: Helping the Elderly

The non-profit has been helping the elderly of Maui through home visits and supportive services for two decades.

Judy Guajardo, the Volunteer Coordinator for Nā Hoaloha, recalls a touching story from last December that has stuck with her ever since.

“We received a call from a lady who asked if we could provide a ride for her and her husband to go the shopping center so they could buy each other a Christmas gift. She explained that she had to give up her driver’s license earlier in the year, and she was the caregiver for her husband who had Parkinson’s. She was in tears as she told me it would be the first time in 70 years they had not gotten each other a present. I put the request out to the volunteers, and was amazed when I saw the overwhelming response.”

The elderly couple was able to exchange gifts last Christmas, thanks to the selflessness of Nā Hoaloha’s team of dedicated volunteers.

Nā Hoaloha, which means “loving friend” in Hawaiian, has been helping Maui’s seniors for over 21 years. The agency provides supportive services to 630 participants, including transportation, friendly visits, and telephone calls to prevent loneliness and depression.

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Nā Hoaloha currently has 235 volunteers, but around the holidays, the agency could use additional helping hands.

“During the holidays, many seniors who live alone are often forgotten. This is an ideal time to volunteer to visit someone, go out shopping, or enjoy a meal together. Even a phone call can make a world of difference in someone’s life.”

The holidays can be a tough time for anyone, but they can be especially trying for elderly people who are lonely and simply need to see a friendly face. And Nā Hoaloha could certainly use a few more of those friendly faces.

Guajardo says, “It’s an incredible feeling of joy to introduce a new volunteer to a participant and witness a bond of friendship develop between them.”

To find out how you can volunteer for Nā Hoaloha, visit the Nā Hoaloha website or call Judy at 249-2545. You may find other volunteer opportunities on the County of Maui Volunteer Center’s website.