Sunday, February 21, 2010


Stanley Kau... like fine wine... gets better and better

I met Stanley about three years ago and ran into him a few times since. The first time was when his wife was a patient in Pearl City Nursing home and again when she was a patient in St. Francis West Hospice.

Stanley at Pearl City Nursing Home

After his wife passed away two and a half years ago, he decided to revisit his skills as a pianist and volunteered at nursing and care facilities. He performs monthly at Ka Punawai Ola in Kapolei, Pearl City Nursing home, St. Francis West Hospice, Waipahu Adult Daycare and Pearl City Hongwanji. Whew! I have to catch my breath just thinking about all those commitments. He even does commitments back to back. My fingers begin hurting after one set.

He calls himself the one-eyed pianist because he is practically blind in one eye. When he perspires during his performances and the sweat drips into his good eye, he has to play by memory until he can wipe his face so he can read the music.

He first took classical piano lessons at age 10 but quit after two years. Later, he took a year of lessons in popular music when he was 14 and has been playing ever since. In those days, his teacher used to come around on his motor scooter to give lessons. Lessons cost $3 for each half-hour, a hefty sum during the Depression.

And he's still playing at a very young age 85. Truly an amazing person.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Ann has been a volunteer at Queen's medical Center for over 2 years. You can find her three days a week, busy discharging patients and delivering flowers and mail to patients. Always with that charming smile of hers which brings brightness into the lives of patients and staff alike.

A widow for 10 years, she retired from the UH press and decided to do volunteer work with Queen's because the attitude of the staff towards volunteers are always positive (yes, there are facilities where the staff members are not always appreciative of their volunteers). When you run into her at the Medical Center, be sure to stop and say "hello".

The volunteering has given some structure to her busy life and the many friends she has made with the staff and other volunteers has made it a very rich and pleasurable experience.

This tiny bundle of energy can be seen on the streets around Queen's going to and from home on her moped. When you see her, give a wide berth. Queen's needs her. The patients need her. We need her.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Back in the early 60s, a bunch of us played in a band, Hawaii Sansei Orchestra. We played at weddings for about $3 apiece, but we got to eat and drink as much as we desired. I shudder to think what we sounded like by the time we got to the 3rd set.

Some of the more talented members moved on as they improved their musical skills. Some became members of the Royal Hawaiian Band, some played for the Orient Express, some became band directors, some played and served in military bands and others moved on to other things in life. We all, however, retained our love for music.

Three of the more talented members, Paul Kaneshiro, Clayton Tom and Bob Sakata did much more than that. They formed a Christian trio when one of their mothers was in a nursing home and performed for the residents there every Friday. This was in 2003.

Soon, they began performing every Friday mornings at various nursing homes and care facilities under the name, "Senior moments for Christ".

Pat Sombrio (bass), Bobby Kini (keys), Pastor Lana Kini (vocals), Paul Kaneshiro (guitar), Clayton Tom (vocals), and Bob Sakata (vocals). Missing, Joyce Pasion and Larry Lovewell.

The group has now grown to 8 members and perform under the name "Island Pray'z Band" and service 26 different care homes and nursing facilities every year on Oahu. In addition, they entertain at numerous public and private events bringing forth their musical ministry for all to embrace.

Needless to say, I'm in awe of them and am proud that I can claim that I was once good enough to perform with them... my goodness... was it almost 50 years ago? Of course, I know that they pray for my soul every day, being the sinner that I am.

They are available for private gigs. Email Clayton Tom at CTOM5@HAWAIIANTEL.NET or Paul Kaneshiro at  PAULK@HAWAIINANTEL.NET.

Monday, February 1, 2010


I was at St. Francis Hospice West the other day, happily hacking away at the piano as is my usual habit every Thursday, when a couple walked into the lobby with two dogs. They waved at me as they went past and headed towards the nurses' station and the patients' rooms.

I quickly finished my hour of hacking and went to the nurses' station, hoping to meet them.

Freida, Jim, Vickie and Angela

Jim and Vickie Kennedy have been doing "pet therapy" for two years now. The idea all began when Vickie's guide dog, Freida, (Vickie has been legally blind since 1978) got very sick. Freida had to have a large cancerous tumor removed and although she fully recovered from the operation, she began to slow down quite a bit. By late 2007, Freida had been with Vickie for almost eight years (the normal guide dog service is six and a half years) so the Kennedys decided to try to have Freida perform pet therapy work. And Freida took to that work like the trooper that she is. Vicky, meanwhile obtained another guide dog, Angela.

Everyone, patients and staff members, look forward to their visits. They have served at the Queen's Medical Center, St Francis Hospice (Nuuanu) and St Francis Hospice West. Freida has made over 2,000 visits in the two years.

Good Job, Freida.

People who volunteer to make the community a better place to live are indeed, special people.

If you have questions for the Kennedys, please feel free to comment. Or, email me and I'll forward your comments to them.