Catholic Charities of Hawaii - Generations Magazine - August - September 2011Rita Lontayao grew up on Kaua‘i. She married her husband in 1935 and lived with him in plantation housing, where they worked and raised their family. After many years on the plantation, her husband passed away. Then a few months later, the plantation closed, forcing her to move to alternate housing. She recalls the uncertainty of that time when she did not know how she would make ends meet without her husband, or his source of income.

That was 20 years ago. Rita now lives independently at D.E. Thompson Village, a senior housing project. For many years, Rita relied on her daughter for many of her needs. However, when her daughter passed away several years ago, Rita needed help and found it at Catholic Charities Hawai‘i.

Rita receives several services from Catholic Charities Hawai‘i, including case management and volunteer assistance. Her Catholic Charities case manager, Letty, originally helped to assess what Rita needed to help her maintain her independence. Letty made referrals for a Senior Companion for Rita, as well as for volunteer assistance through Catholic Charities.

A senior companion now visits Rita once a week and takes her to the grocery store each month to stock up on necessities. In addition, Rita has two Catholic Charities volunteers who visit her twice a week to provide companionship and run errands for her, including bringing her fresh fruits and vegetables. Letty visits her regularly to monitor her status and reassess her service needs.

“Without these services, Mrs. Lontayao would not be able to sustain her independence,” says Diane Terada, division administrator for Catholic Charities Hawai‘i’s senior services. “At Catholic Charities Hawai‘i, we look at the whole individual to assess what kinds of services are needed. We are able to provide an array of services, from case management to housing assistance and more. Our case managers serve as the lynchpin to help assess what seniors need, help them access services and help monitor that they receive the level of services/benefits that are appropriate to keep them safe and able to maintain independent living.”

Given Hawai‘i’s rapidly growing senior population, Catholic Charities Hawai‘i remains dedicated to creating and providing services that keep seniors engaged and independent. Services include case management in various senior housing projects, transportation, housing assistance, respite for caregivers, medication management education, Lanakila Multi-Purpose Senior Center activities and volunteers who provide a companionship.

“We have seen the tremendous difference our programs make in this community,” adds Terada. “Catholic Charities Hawai‘i’s goal is to help seniors stay healthy, get the resources they need and live independently for as long as safely possible.”

For more information on senior services provided by Catholic Charities Hawai‘i, please visit Or call (808) 524-HOPE (4673).


Catholic Charities Hawai‘i also provides volunteer opportunities for those wanting to give back to their community. Interested volunteers can be a friendly visitor for seniors assisting them with small tasks from helping to read documents to escorting seniors to doctor visits. All volunteers are trained in providing services. If you’re interested in this personally rewarding opportunity, call the paraprofessional services at 524-HOPE (4673).