LAHAINA - It is fitting that the Kaunoa West Maui Senior Center sits in the shade of the former Pioneer Mill office edifice, which stands as a testament to the rural life that so many experienced and now live on to enrich their golden years at this same site.
It is a stark contrast of architectural design - a colonial, two-story 1800s building set along Lahainaluna Road under historic trees, with the modern, school-type setting and immaculately kept senior center building nestled in behind.
Despite the traffic din that livens up Lahainaluna Road in the morning and afternoon school/rush hour time frame, it is a quiet nest for the 55 and better West Siders, most of them having lived in the nearby mill camps and toiled in the fields or in the sugar processing factory that is today just a fond memory for them.
A function of the county Department of Housing and Human Concerns, Kaunoa Senior Services aims to serve all those who lived the 20th century and made the deep, rich culture of Maui what it is today. Indeed, the mission statement at the top of the organization's monthly flyer reads: "Kaunoa, The Best Years. Live, laugh, learnleave a legacy."
The program offers Assisted Transportation, Congregate Nutrition Services, leisure programs, Meals on Wheels, and a Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).
Assisted Transportation services are provided for the frail, homebound senior, allowing accessibility to essential services necessary to maintain independence. For information, call 270-7310.
Congregate Nutrition (270-7306) services bring seniors together for a nutritionally balanced meal in a setting that encourages socialization in locations throughout Maui.
Meals on Wheels (270-7321) delivers ready-to-eat, nutritious midday meals to the elderly, homebound and those unable to manage their own meal preparation, helping them remain independent in their homes.
RSVP provides volunteer opportunities for people 55 and better based on their personal interests and skills. They are placed throughout the community at registered stations where they are able to enhance the lives of others - the Lahaina Complex After School Tutoring Program is one example here.
Kaunoa leisure programs are dedicated to offering a variety of opportunities for everyone 55 and better to learn new ideas and master new skills that promote lifelong learning, healthy aging, whole person wellness and personal growth.
Ongoing classes offered include stretch and conditioning with Carmen Karady, line dancing led by Sharon Morris, hula taught by Stacy Shibao and Aunty Doll Aricayos, weights and stretching, cardio with Cassidy O'Donnell, body tone, yoga led by Ellen Belconis, ageless grace guided by Jennifer Loftus, cardio party with Emily Shaw and Tai Chi taught by Cory Williams.
Representative of this dedicated staff of instructors is Tai Chi instructor Williams, who teaches the Taoist arts of Tai Chi, Qigong, meditation and Gong Fu.
"I've always enjoyed teaching, and it is rewarding to help people learn to help themselves to a better life. We can help them to a better life of health by extending life and relieving pain and suffering through mental, physical, spiritual integration. We can all grow together by sharing with each other," he explained from the Kaunoa West Maui Center office after his classes last week.
"There is so much knowledge, so much energy just waiting inside of us to be released - to be born again."
Williams can be reached at TaijiOnMaui.com for more information.
The ongoing leisure program classes are offered Monday through Thursday between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Call 661-9432 or visit the facility at 788 Pauoa St. behind the old Pioneer Mill office building along Lahainaluna Road.
"Live, laugh, learn leave a legacy."