Maui “Outstanding Older American” 2014 Nominees Unveiled

April 17, 2014, 8:28 AM HST · Updated April 17, 8:29 AM
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Winners of Outstanding Older Americans: Richard Endsley & Diane Logsdon. Photo courtesy: County of Maui/Ryan Piros.

Winners of the 2013 Outstanding Older Americans: Richard Endsley & Diane Logsdon. File photo courtesy: County of Maui/Ryan Piros.

By Maui Now Staff

The Maui County Office on Aging announced the ten nominees who will be honored at the 46th Annual Outstanding Older American Awards ceremony in May.

The 10 nominees include: Louise Corpuz, Penny Dearborn, Sally Gospodarek, Barbara Kennedy, Kathleen Ordonez, Patsy Ponce, Tom Leuteneker, Fred Ruge, John Tryggestad and Kanee Wright.

During the awards luncheon Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa will proclaim May as “Older Americans Month.”

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The event is scheduled to take place at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at the Maui Beach Hotel’s Elleair Ballroom in Kahului.

The public is invited to attend for a cost of $20 in advance, or $25 at the door.

County officials released the following background information on the nominees:

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Louise Corpuz, 70, lives Upcountry but drives frail seniors to medical visits as far away as Lahaina. She is described as a “huge attribute” to the Senior Medicare Patrol and other groups.  Corpuz also spearheads St. John Episcopal Church’s Adopt-A-Highway program, to rids Maui’s roadways of litter. She also gives blood and works to bolster food supplies for the Maui Food Bank.

Penny Dearborn, 67, is the co-founder of the Hawaiʻi Animal Rescue Foundation’s no-kill shelter. On the weekends she can be seen at the Maui Mall actively seeking new homes for homeless dogs and puppies. She is credited with finding homes for 1,600 dogs and six horses since 2011. She also supervises students who volunteer at the shelter.

Sally Gospodarek, 73, spent six years as a family caregiver, and has volunteered as an assisted transportation driver for the Kaunoa Senior Center.  The volunteer work involves transporting frail elders for medical appointments, shopping and errands, and providing friendship in the process.

Barbara Kennedy, 75, volunteers with a variety of services including driving seniors to a cancer treatment, medical appointments or out to retrieve groceries and medications.  In her four years of service to Nā Hoaloha, she has driven over 6,235 miles for clients.

Kathleen Ordonez, 67, of Kahului, continues to work full-time as a radiology technician at the Maui Medical Group, where she has worked for the past 44 years.  Her granddaughter Rhianna nominated her to receive the Outstanding Older American award for her selfless caregiving of her father from the time he fell ill and needed assistance in 2006 until he passed away eight years later at Hale Makua.

Patsy Ponce, 79, works with clients at the Senior Companion program as they deal with a decline in mental capacity and physical ability. When her clients are placed in a nursing home, she pays them cheerful visits until they pass away. County officials say she does not forget her friends even when they can’t remember her.

Tom Leuteneker, 73, helps Maui citizens from education and the arts to the children in the justice system. He heads up many non-profit boards, including the Children’s Advocacy/Justice Center and the Rotary Club of Wailuku.  Leuteneker is credited with playing an instrumental role in the building of the Haʻikū Playground, and is helping his faith organization build a new church in Wailuku.

Fred Ruge, 84, devotes much of his time to help veterans of Maui through his leadership, fundraising, transportation to appointments, and guidance through the challenging path to VA benefits.  His accomplishments include: Korean War Combat Veteran, lobbying to expand Makawao Veterans Cemetery, helping create jobs for returning Afghanistan Veterans, preventing veteran suicides, extending his helping hand to the homeless, and helping the poor as a Salvation Army holiday bell ringer.

John Tryggestad, 67, is an environmentalist who has dedicated his time to cleaning South Maui beaches through Hoaloha ‘Āina, banding Hawaiian Wedge-Tailed Shearwaters through the Maui Nui Seabird Project, recycling books though his affiliation with The Friends of the Maui Library.  He also gives rides to seniors in need.  As part of his work with the Friends of the Library, he helped to set up the organization’s Puʻunēnē warehouse and stores in Lahaina and at Queen Kaʻahumanu Center.

Kanee Wright, 83, is a volunteer at Hale Mahaʻolu’s Home Pumehana site in Kaunakakai, Molokaʻi. She helps by cleaning Home Pumehana’s windows, screens, tables and chairs, as well as running errands for the kitchen, office and maintenance shop, and delivering parcels.  She also volunteers her time on the road delivering nutritious meals to the island’s frail and home-bound seniors.

The Annual Outstanding Older American Awards takes place each May to recognize older Americans for their contributions, and provide them with information on how to stay healthy and active.

Judges for this year’s awards are: Audrey Rocha Reed, Director of Heritage Hall; Ronna Patty, PHN; Cesar Gaxiola, Executive Director of the Cameron Center; Scott Seto, Executive Director of Adult and Community Care branch of the Department of Human Services; and Sandy Freeman, Executive Director, Maui Adult Day Care Centers.

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