Senior programs on Moloka‘i are provided by a wide range of nonprofits. There is no designated “senior center,” but a number of facilities welcome program providers. The Moloka‘i Rural Health Community Association (MRHCA) is one such provider. Its Kūpuna Program was established post-COVID with funding from Maui County’s Office of Economic Development and Office on Aging to promote overall health and wellness. Program Manager Ku‘ulei Arce describes MRHCA as a “one-stop place that aims to help kūpuna live a well-rounded life.”

The programs offered include computer classes at the Moloka‘i Education Center twice a month, weekly stretching and hula classes held at Home Pumehana, and sewing classes held at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Other offerings include pickleball, ‘ukulele and origami, healthy eating workshops, excursions and one-off events such as Christmas with Melveen Leed, which was held at the Moloka‘i Community Health Center.

Socialization and fun

One program that MRCHA supports is the Kupuna Fun Night put on by Hōkūlani Children’s Theatre of Molokai (HCTOM). Held once a month at Home Pumehana, it provides socialization, a congregate meal, and activities designed to “keep kūpuna engaged and provide them with tools to help them live better—like listening and remembering,” says HCTOM Founder Vicki Boswell. The participants also work on joint projects with the keiki, creating costumes, building and painting sets, and performing together for the public.

A recent Keiki and Kūpuna Comedy Variety Show featured stand-up and mime by both age groups.

Small but mighty

Another nonprofit that focuses on kūpuna health and wellbeing is Mālama Molokai Wellness. Tai chi classes are held twice a week in an adjacent outdoor space. Other options include low-impact interval training and “kūpuna strong” classes. The exercise class designed to strengthen the body’s core muscles aims to aid balance, which helps prevent falls.

Music, smiles and laughter abound, making a mighty impact in participants’ lives!