Adult day center opens in long-awaited new location

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald The new kitchen is ready to make a feast Monday at Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Adult Day Center in Hilo.
  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Kupuna play blackjack Monday at Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Adult Day Center in Hilo.

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Evelyn Otsuka plays shuffle board Monday at Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Adult Day Center in Hilo.

More than a dozen kupuna sat outside near the verdant gardens of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Adult Day Center in Hilo on Monday morning, ready for some shuffleboard.

It was warm and breezy outside, and the two teams cheered and applauded as participants sent their pucks sliding down the sidewalk.

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Inside, some sat around the tables, talking and laughing, while others colored. A handful played cards.

In a recliner by the door, a woman was dozing with her feet up.

It seemed like business as usual, but after nearly a decade of work to bring it to fruition, Monday marked the first day that the adult day center was open in its new location on Kupuna Place.

The $8.7 million, 19,414 square-foot day center — located adjacent to the Mohouli Heights Senior Neighborhood — is a partnership between Hawaii Island Community Development Corp., which managed the construction of the facility, and Hawaii Island Adult Care, which will provide programs and services there.

HIAC, which provides adult day care for elders and cognitively impaired and challenged adults, was located on Rainbow Drive in the former — and aging — Hilo Memorial Hospital.

Executive Director Marcie Saquing said Monday that it’s “kind of surreal” and exciting to be in the new building, but it’s also a “little nostalgic” for HIAC to leave its old home.

“I haven’t been employed with HIAC for that long, but 37 years of business in that building,” she said. “Then to leave and come here — that’s quite a monumental event.”

Construction on the new facility was originally expected to be complete in February 2018, but Saquing said there were construction delays.

A blessing was conducted in October, but Saquing said minor issues needed to be addressed before the group was granted a certificate of occupancy for the new building.

While she has only been with HIAC less than two years, Saquing said the organization’s board members have “gone through the whole process, from beginning to end.”

“I think for them, it’s a great relief. They’ve worked very hard, and the community has just stood by us all these years. For me, I’m just happy that we’re here.”

During a tour of the new center Monday, Saquing greeted the participants. She headed toward a table where a game of blackjack was underway.

“Florence, how do you like our new building?” Saquing asked a participant at the table.

“I love it,” answered Florence Ebisuzaki.

Ebisuzaki has been coming to the adult day center for about five years.

“I mean, I like the old place. You (have) good memories, but coming here is nice, and I like it, and I’m glad I can come here,” she said.

Carlina Ragual, who lives in the neighboring senior housing development, also was seated at the card table.

“I like it,” she said about the new center. “It’s so close for me now that I live here.”

Ragual said her daughter and son-in-law walked her down to the center Monday morning.

“It was nice walking. I like it,” she said.

According to Saquing, HIAC is licensed to serve 105 individuals a day and currently averages about 68-72 per day.

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“I just want to extend our deepest gratitude for the support that we’ve had from our community to get us where we are today,” she said.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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