By Kerry Miller Share Del.icio.us
It takes Susanna Cheung an hour to drive to work each morning, and another hour to get home at the end of the day. For Cheung, president and chief executive officer of Helemano Plantation in Wahiawa, the length of her commute doesn’t deter her from her daily goal - lending her heart and her time to help others.
Since gracing MidWeek’s cover in December of 1997, Cheung has seen new growth at Helemano, as well as growth within her own family. This month she and her staff also are busy planning their annual fundraiser.
The new growth at Helemano, known primarily for its ground-breaking work with mentally retarded clients, is part of an elder-care project. Currently, the plantation has an eldercare center on site, which serves as a day-care facility for seniors. In the works is new housing for the elderly.
“Now we have six houses all complete; each house is for five people,” Cheung says. So if your family wants to go to Disneyland, for instance, and the grandparents are too old to travel, “We can baby-sit. They can come to our place. My whole idea is for the elderly to have a choice.
“This eldercare is to continue the quality of life. Start now, not later, because grandparents (age) 70 to 80 are hard to take care of. We keep them in good hygiene. It’s hard for them to take a shower, bathe themselves,” adds the East Oahu resident.
The ultimate goal for the elderly housing is to be a place for respite care in a residential setting, and also provide transitional housing for people at risk of being homeless while they get back on their feet, eventually leaving to live on their own.
Helemano’s fundraising event this year has a lot to do with supporting its elderly housing project. The event, taking place Friday, Dec. 15, from 5 to 11 p.m. at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, is themed “Support Tomorrow’s Dream Today.”
The evening includes dinner, dancing and live entertainment. Also, guests may bid on various items at the silent auction. Tickets are $75 for gold seats or $100 for platinum seats, and can be purchased by calling 622-3929.
Lately Cheung says she’s really been “putting her nose to the grindstone” at work, but when she does have free time it’s usually spent with family. “I became a grandmother - one granddaughter, one grandson,” says the proud tutu.
The “I’m over 38”-year-old also enjoys quality time with her husband, Homing. “He’s one of those traveling ‘go here, go there,‘not me. Every morning it’s one hour to come in, one hour to come home.
“I enjoy working with the staff. We’re all growing old together, except for me,” Cheung laughs. “Helemano is my baby.”
- Kerry Miller
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