Updated at 7:09 a.m., Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Membership soaring in Japanese senior citizens' group
News ReleaseHONOLULU, Hawaii Hawaii Senior Life Enrichment Association, a state of Hawaii non-profit organization based in Honolulu, has announced that 100 members had joined the organization as of Nov. 30.
HISLEA was launched on Sept. 26 and officially started activities on Nov. 1.
"We are pleasantly surprised that we have reached one hundred members within one month since Nov. 1," said Ryozo Sakai, president and chairman. "That number is our original goal for the first fiscal year that will end in June, 2008."
Sakai said he believes the reason for a surge in joining members is because, "There is a strong need for these kinds of services among Japanese seniors."
HISLEA was originally organized with the objective to spiritually and physically enrich the lives of seniors from Japan who visit and stay in Hawaii in addition to local seniors residing in Hawaii and to encourage and promote an active lifestyle. The organization has established an "Information Center" for Japanese speaking members and the general public to get necessary and useful information in Japanese. The Information Center has a "Member's Hotline" as one of the membership benefits.
HISLEA also will start sponsoring a weekly "Active Senior Life Seminar" to provide useful information about Hawaiian culture and society.
"We have already scheduled two seminars in December," Sakai said. "Each seminar will cover diverse topics like real estate, financial planning, health, etc. Starting January, 2008, seminars will be held weekly."
"Senior Friday Events" is another activity that HISLEA has started. "These events will be so much fun. We will go to downtown for First Fridays, lunch at the Waikiki Yacht Harbor, take ukulele lessons, attend golf events, and more," said Sakai.
Objectives will be to establish friendships between members and local people. According to a recent survey conducted by the Japanese government, Hawaii is one of the most desired destinations for Japanese seniors to visit after retirement. However, Sakai views one of the biggest obstacles preventing Japanese seniors from coming to Hawaii is that "they don't have friends here. Especially for seniors, they don't like being lonely. So we will provide many opportunities for them to develop friendships here in the islands."
In the near future, HISLEA is aiming to provide opportunities for Japanese seniors to introduce their knowledge and skills of Japan's rich culture, history, and technology to local people. "We will first focus on helping Japanese people to get around in Hawaii. But our next step will be to help them to contribute to Hawaii's community as well. It should go both ways," explained Sakai.
HISLEA is established as a Hawaii non-profit organization, and will be operated through membership dues and donations from members and the general public from both Japan and Hawaii.
For the first year, HISLEA aims to have 50 corporate members in addition to individual members. HISLEA has received the active support from the Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu and the Hawaii Tourism Authority.