In these challenging times, it is important to reflect on the rich history and valuable services provided by Hale Makua Health Services, as well as the continued support of individuals such as Roy and Betty Sakamoto and the local community.
Roy Sakamoto’s connection with Hale Makua is longstanding, interwoven, and personal.
Before World War II, the island’s elderly men who needed residential care not otherwise available to them were housed in a building known as the “Old Men’s Home” on the grounds of the old Malulani Hospital in Wailuku. Shortly after the outbreak of war in the US, the military occupied Malulani Hospital and requested that all other patients be evacuated including the elderly. Which meant the men needed a new place to stay. The YBA or Young Buddhist Association was kind enough to open its doors and offer a safe haven in the basement of their building.
During WWII, resources and services throughout the Hawaiian islands were severely strained – not only for the elderly.
As a result of island hospitals being utilized for the active military servicemembers many locals, including Roy Sakamoto, had to be born in alternate facilities. Born amidst the tumult of WWII at a makeshift hospital at Lahaina Luna High School, Roy Sakamoto’s life story is as unique as the island he calls home.
A point of shared history among his peers, Roy often remarks that most of his Lahaina classmates were likely born at the school too, unless they were born at home. This unique beginning is more than just a personal anecdote; it’s a symbol of the resilience and adaptability of the Maui community.
Following the war, members of the Young Buddhist Association along with the local island community raised funds to build a much-needed place for the elderly living in their basement. Founded in 1946, Hale Makua was established as a haven for Maui elders who needed compassionate residential care but had no one to care for them and no means to pay for their care. In 1947, 120 volunteers showed up to build Hale Makua’s first location a 24-bed home in Happy Valley. Since their labor was unpaid, any work injuries were treated free of charge.
Dedicated Hale Makua Supporter
Roy became a staunch supporter of Hale Makua after his mother became a resident there. He was greatly impressed by the quality of care his mom received and the compassion of those who took care of her. In 1986, he started serving Hale Makua by volunteering on their fundraising Giving Committee. He took the lead in organizing the first annual Benefit Golf Tournament in 1987 and played a key role in the organization being selected as the benefiting charity of the Kaanapali Senior Pro-Am Golf Classic from 1987 to 2001.
Roy’s dedication to Hale Makua has remained unwavering through the years. He’s well known for his long-standing role as a director on the volunteer Board of Directors for Hale Makua Health Services. His leadership role has been invaluable in spearheading fundraising events, as well as his success in motivating others to contribute their time, money, and talent. His guidance has been instrumental in steering the organization through growth and change, while steadfastly maintaining its core mission to enhance the well-being of those under its care.
Support from partners like the Sakamoto’s has been instrumental in enabling Hale Makua to continue offering its vital services. This includes involvement in annual fundraisers like Kokua for Kupuna, which brings the community together in support of Hale Makua’s mission, or emergency funds like the recent Hale Makua Disaster Relief fund created immediately after the devastating Maui wildfires.
In every sense, Roy Sakamoto embodies the spirit of Hale Makua, from his humble beginnings at Lahaina Luna High School’s make-shift hospital to his ongoing service on the Board of Directors at Hale Makua Health Service, his life story is a testament to the power of dedication, leadership, and community service.
In these challenging times, we are incredibly proud to be part of such a strong and resilient team. The journey to recovery is long, but with unity, compassion, and aloha, we will overcome together, supporting each other every step of the way, and emerging even stronger than before.