All fun, games

Woman’s heart in adult day care

The Maui News - - FRONT PAGE -

It’s all fun and games at

Maui Adult Day Care Cen­ters. Lit­er­ally.

On any given day, the non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion hosts a va­ri­ety of so­cial and mind-stim­u­lat­ing ac­tiv­i­ties — from card games to danc­ing to karaoke — that bring joy to its 300-plus clients.

And there’s plenty of joy to go around. Just ask Suzanne An­tou­nian. “It’s the most spe­cial place,” she said. “I love com­ing to work ev­ery day. It’s where my heart is hap­pi­est.”

An­tou­nian is the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Maui Adult Day Care Cen­ters, which was founded in 1974 by a group of res­i­dents who were keenly aware of the emo­tional costs of car­ing for an ag­ing or dis­abled loved one. To­day, the li­censed, pri­vate 501(c)(3) non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion has lo­ca­tions in Kahu­lui, Ki­hei, Wailuku, La­haina and Hana (a sixth lo­ca­tion Up­coun­try is be­ing planned) and pro­vides af­ford­able adult day care ser­vices to clients ages 18 and older who are el­derly, frail, dis­abled or have been di­ag­nosed with Alzheimer’s dis­ease or other forms of de­men­tia.

Fam­ily care­givers have the peace of mind know­ing their loved ones — who are no longer able to stay at home alone dur­ing the day — are en­gaged in a so­cial day pro­gram that pro­vides care as well as com­pan­ion­ship. Ser­vices in­clude daily phys­i­cal ex­er­cise (com­men­su­rate with abil­ity), mem­ory and cog­ni­tion ther­apy, hot meals and snacks, ex­cur­sions, in­di­vid­ual and group games and in­ter­gen­er­a­tional ac­tiv­i­ties. The or­ga­ni­za­tion also sup­ports care­givers through fam­ily respite, care­giver sup­port groups and work­shops, and sup­port­ive coun­sel­ing ses­sions.

An­tou­nian stepped into the role of ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor in 2016, and need­less to say, it was a per­fect fit. Eigh­teen years ago, she was hired as the first mar­ket­ing and res­i­dent ac­tiv­i­ties di­rec­tor for the then­newly built Kalama Heights re­tire­ment com­mu­nity in Ki­hei. Mar­ket­ing was sec­ond na­ture to An­tou­nian, who had pre­vi­ously held the ti­tles of di­rec­tor of sales, mar­ket­ing and cater­ing at the Bev­erly Gar­land Ho­tel in Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios, Calif., and se­nior sales, mar­ket­ing and cater­ing man­ager at the Sports­men’s Lodge Ho­tel and Event Cen­ter in Stu­dio City, Calif. In 2004, An­tou­nian be­came the gen­eral man­ager of Kalama Heights, and in 2009, its com­mu­nity man­ager.

An­tou­nian, who had cared for her ail­ing grand­mother, mother and brother, says work­ing with the se­nior res­i­dents at Kalama Heights res­onated deeply.

“My heart has al­ways been with the el­derly,” she said. “I will do any­thing and ev­ery­thing I can to give them a qual­ity life.”

Now at the helm of Maui Adult Day Care Cen­ters, An­tou­nian con­tin­ues to col­lab­o­rate with many of the same com­mu­nity part­ners, in­clud­ing the Maui County Of­fice on Ag­ing, Maui County Coun­cil, Mayor Alan Arakawa, Kaunoa Se­nior Cen­ter, Maui Eco­nomic Op­por­tu­nity, Hos­pice Maui, Is­land Hos­pice. Maui Me­mo­rial Med­i­cal Cen­ter, Hale Makua Health Ser­vices and The Maui News.

And while she may be the pub­lic face of Maui Adult Day Care Cen­ters, she’s quick to point out that it’s far from a one-woman show. She cred­its the con­tin­ued suc­cess of the or­ga­ni­za­tion (which re­cently re­ceived the 2018 Out­stand­ing Non­profit Agency Part­ner of the Year Award from Maui United Way) to its ded­i­cated staff and board of di­rec­tors. “We have a great team,” she said. “They are un­be­liev­ably car­ing and com­pas­sion­ate. I am so lucky to have the op­por­tu­nity to work with them.”

Maui Adult Day Care Cen­ters is al­ways ac­cept­ing new clients, and schol­ar­ships from pri­vate and pub­lic funds are avail­able for el­i­gi­ble ap­pli­cants.

“We take care of ev­ery per­son who walks through our door,” An­tou­nian said. “For me, the great­est re­ward is mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in the lives of the peo­ple who come to Maui Adult Day Care Cen­ters ev­ery day. It’s a spe­cial feel­ing.”

Maui Adult Day Care Cen­ters will host its first “Mon­ster Mash” Hal­loween cos­tume dance party fundraiser un­der the full moon from 6 to 10 p.m. Oct. 27 at Maui Adult Day Care Cen­ters’ Ocean View site lo­cated at the Ni­sei Vet­er­ans Me­mo­rial Cen­ter’s Stan­ley Izu­mi­gawa Me­mo­rial Pavil­ion. At­ten­dees will be treated to din­ner, live mu­sic by Ne­vah Too Late, a pump­kin dec­o­rat­ing con­test (par­tic­i­pants can en­ter their pre­carved or painted pump­kin) and prizes for the fun­ni­est and scari­est cos­tumes of the evening. Tick­ets for this all-ages, al­co­hol­free event are $35 in advance and $40 at the door; pro­ceeds will go to the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s ac­tiv­ity sup­port and schol­ar­ship funds.

And An­tou­nian en­cour­ages res­i­dents of all ages and abil­i­ties to sign up for the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s an­nual “Fam­ily Care­giver Walk for Our Kupuna & Care­givers” from 7 to 11 a.m. Feb. 23 at Queen Ka‘ahu­manu Cen­ter. The event will fea­ture live mu­sic and en­ter­tain­ment by Ne­vah Too Late and the Elec­tric Slide Tu­tus. There also will be com­pli­men­tary food and bev­er­ages, mas­sages, a health fair and prizes.

To learn more about Maui Adult Day Care Cen­ters, to in­quire about vol­un­teer op­por­tu­ni­ties or to make a do­na­tion (funds can be des­ig­nated for ac­tiv­i­ties, schol­ar­ships or in mem­ory of a loved one), call 871-5804 or visit www.

Sarah Rup­penthal is a Maui-based writer. Do you have an in­ter­est­ing neigh­bor? Tell us about them at mis­s­rup­ “Neigh­bors” and “The State of Aloha,” writ­ten by Ben Lowen­thal, al­ter­nate Fri­days.

Suzanne An­tou­nian is the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Maui Adult Day Care Cen­ters, a li­censed, pri­vate 501(c)(3) non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­vides af­ford­able, high-qual­ity adult day care ser­vices to clients in a safe, fam­ily-ori­ented en­vi­ron­ment. Pic­tured here with Maui Adult Day Care Cen­ters board Pres­i­dent Wil­liam “Bill” Ki­naka, goes the ex­tra mile to make sure ev­ery client re­ceives the best care pos­si­ble at each of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s five cen­ters.


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