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Shimeji “Shim” Kanazawa

In this issue’s category of Seniors Of Service, we spotlight someone of community involvement and inspiration. Shimeji Kanazawa or “Shim” as she was fondly called graced our cover in April 2011. In this issue, we would like to honor her again, as a senior of service.

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Shim was an advocator to numerous programs and services for the elderly, disabled and youth. She was best known for being the “founder” of Project Dana, although she credited its development and growth to the many contributing volunteers.

In this following concept for Project Dana, she stated, “For the project’s next phase, I’d like to propose a partnership between the youth and elderly. Together, they could share their talents and resources, supporting each other in relationships that benefit both the individuals and the community.” At the time of our interview, Shim continued to be a leading visionary of character and heart.

Shim’s continued commitments and dedication awarded her an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree from the University of Hawai‘i for her public service of over six decades and a Lifetime Honorary Kupuna member of the Policy Advisory Board for Elder Affairs (PABEA). She was chosen as the first to receive the honors in the recognition for her decades of achievement in advancing policies and programs that enhanced the lives, safety and welfare of Hawai’i’s elders and their caregivers.

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Shim helping Japanese civilians and internees during WWII.

She had been appointed and commissioned by many of our leading Governors from being chairperson for Family Life and Law Committee to being the driving force behind the State of Hawai‘i Executive Office on Aging. In 1981, Shim became the first female director and chairperson of the Board of Kuakini Medical Center.

In 1961, 1971 and 1981, Shim led a delegation of approximately 12 community leaders to Washington, D.C. discussing current issues facing the aging population. She was selected to serve on the National White House Aging Committee in Washington, D.C. under the administration of President Jimmy Carter. Here, it allowed her the opportunity to share the plight and success of eldercare in Hawai‘i as an advisory to our President and Senate Committee regarding current matters and trends of the older Americans.

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Her sitting in the Governor’s press chamber.

Since 1986, Shim served on the Board of Directors for Mo‘ili‘ili Community Center (MCC), participating in their various committees and chaired the annual membership meeting committee. She appreciated the multi-generational and cultural component MCC provides to the community.

In the article done in April 2011, Shim was asked, “What should people in retirement do with their lives?” She said, “keep up a healthy lifestyle, keep busy, pursue hobbies, do things for others, focus on volunteerism, and keep families together.”

She will be missed!