Thomas Arinaga Says ‘Why Not?’ To Helping Wahiawa Elders

Sarah Pacheco
Wednesday - July 28, 2010
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Aged to Perfection senior day care center supporter and board chairman Thomas Arinaga (center) accepts praise - and a $2,500 check - as Symetra’s 2010 Community Champion. With him are (from left) son Martin Arinaga, Aged to Perfection program director Harrison Peters, daughter Amy Abdule and Symetra Investment Services’ Bridget Burgess. The presentation was made recently at Honolulu Country Club. Photo courtesy of Lari Yasui.

Some things only get better with age, and one of these treasures is former Okinawa missionary and schoolteacher Thomas Arinaga.

He recently was honored as a Symetra Community Champion for his lifetime of volunteer service to his community, especially through the Aged to Perfection Senior Day Care Center in Wahiawa.

It was founded 30 years ago by Wahiawa United Methodist Church members as Central Oahu Senior Day Care in response to President Reagan’s challenge for citizens to think of ways they could work for the benefit of communities.

“A group of people at the church thought there might be something they could start to service the needs of adults in Central Oahu,” explained Arinaga, 81, “With the leadership of their pastor and a retired public health nurse, they surveyed the needs and wants of an adult day care service and found a significant need.”

The facility now provides meals, activities and multi-generational interaction with students of all ages.

“The key to success was the church lending us space rent-free,” added Arinaga, who joined the group shortly before it opened in 1980 and now serves as chairman of the board and part-time gardener for both the center and the church. “Today we pay rent; we’re a bit more self-supporting now.”

Arinaga has helped out in every facet imaginable, giving back where he saw a need - from maintenance and administrative help to interim program director. “What I did mostly was because of the turnover in the directorship; I had to help the new administrator, so I had to learn the business, too, and I had to learn the administration and all the things that go with it,” said Arinaga.

“My father has always been a mentor and source of inspiration to me, especially through his community work,” added Arinaga’s son Martin, a co-founder of Chinen & Arinaga Financial Group Inc., in Mililani which nominated his father for the prestigious award. “The success of Aged to Perfection is due to his foresight, dedication, hard work, elbow grease and perseverance.”

Symetra Investment Services also gave $2,500 to Aged to Perfection, which helped to start a fund for the eventual purchase of its own property.

“Tom has built Aged to Perfection from the ground up,” added Stan Emert of Symetra Financial. “He has turned an idea into a thriving organization that has helped countless seniors. He’s never afraid to get his hands dirty, always willing to help out wherever needed.”

“When I live in a community,” Arinaga explained, “if there’s a need and I can do it, why not?”


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