When she’s not in class brushing up on her foreign language skills, cooking up new recipes in the kitchen, or jet-setting around the globe, Mona spends her days in retirement building community with other Hawaii seniors. For many newly retired seniors, like Mona, adjusting to life outside of the workplace can be a surprisingly daunting task. Often times, leaving the workforce means losing apart of the community you’ve been surrounded with for years. But, with more free time on her hands, Mona decided to seek community elsewhere with the support of Lanakila Meals on Wheels.

In addition to delivering thousands of nutritious meals and fresh produce to our kupuna, Lanakila Meals on Wheels also offers a variety of senior services like technology courses and virtual gathering spaces. Initially, Mona signed up for Lanakila Meals on Wheels to join the Kupuna Tech program with her friends. She smiles, “Although I was quite experienced with technology from my previous career, I thought joining the classes would be a good review of information. And to be honest, I’m really glad I did because these classes pushed me to get more involved with the Kupuna Connect program which has completely changed my life.”

Kupuna Connect is a program that encourages seniors to stay connected with one another in a convenient online community. In these spaces, seniors have the opportunity to learn new skills, talk story with friends, and enjoy the company of others. Mona reflects on her time with the program, “I didn’t realize how much I would cherish these social interactions. Not only is it nice to just have other people to talk to, especially during the pandemic when many of us couldn’t afford to leave the house, but also, I’ve learned so much!”

As an avid learner, Mona loves listening to the stories and experiences of other people. She gushes, “From nutrition to food handling, to exercise tips, to the cultural workings of the water festival in Thailand or the street food in China, I’ve gained so much knowledge. When us seniors share our insights and experiences with one another, it teaches everyone new things. It’s changed how I shop, how I cook, and how I look at the world.”

Fo rMona, Meals on Wheels not only puts food on her table, but more importantly, has given her access to a new community and support system during a time where it’s not always so easy to find. Mona proudly proclaims, “It’s not only the program, but it’s the people. My biggest takeaway is the community – Kupuna Connect provides an opportunity for communities to exist where we share our knowledge in an effort to help one another live a better life of independence.”