Inside her Mo‘ili‘ili condo, Yoko Futa, an 83-year-old former clerk for the State Department of Transportation, volunteers for about 10 hours a week, helping patients at Queen’s hospitals. Yes, she volunteers from her own home.
Futa is a member of The Queen’s Medical Center’s Volunteers in Place program, a way for community-minded people and groups to serve at home, centers or sites.
Program participants are crafters who create oncology caps, lap blankets, newborn baby beanies and Hawaiian-print heart pillows, created from donated materials. “There are people who want to be of service to others, but maybe they no longer drive, have limited mobility, or simply prefer to stay at home or with their own groups,” said April Light, volunteer program manager at Queen’s. “This program offers them an opportunity to contribute and make a difference in our patients’ lives.”
“For me, when you’re retired, you have nothing but time,” Futa said. “Now I’m doing something I really enjoy and putting my time to good use. The end result is something that is needed, so it makes you feel good.”
The Volunteers in Place program immediately appealed to the residents of 15 Craigside, a retirement community in Nu‘uanu. A group of about a dozen women — the oldest is 92 — meet Monday mornings to knit, crochet, sew or stuff pillows.
“We laugh, we roar, sometimes we’re so loud,” said volunteer Willie Faria. Another volunteer,
Violet Irinaka, joked, “It keeps you out of trouble.”
Last June, Pearl City resident Barbara “Bobbie” Omoto retired from the University of Hawai‘i Athletic Department where she served as secretary for the men’s basketball team. Now, the 73-year-old grandmother devotes her love for crocheting to Queen’s patients. “I get a sense of joy from doing this,” Omoto said. “I’m happy if I can make something that someone can use, and they can be happy, too. That’s enough for me.”
If residents of your retirement community can knit, crochet or sew and are interested in the program, or in donating Hawaiian-print fabric, stuffing or knitting and crocheting supplies, please call Queen’s Volunteer Services at 808-691-4397.
THE QUEEN’S MEDICAL CENTER