Open for living: Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Adult Day Center dedicated

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald The new Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Adult Day Center

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald From left, Marcie Saquing, executive director of HIAC and Paula Uusitalo, past executive director of HIAC hug Monday during the dedication of the new Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Adult Day Center at the center in Hilo.

  • Photos by HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

    Betty Nagao, center, smiles as she walks with Lizby Logsdon and Carlina Ragual through the new Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Adult Day Center for the first time Monday during a dedication ceremony for the center in Hilo.

HILO — The long-awaited Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Adult Day Center was dedicated Monday, nearly a decade after plans for such a facility were first discussed.

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

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

HICDC is a nonprofit that aims to assist low to moderate income Big Island residents obtain affordable housing.

Leaders of the two organizations and others, including Mayor Harry Kim, addressed the crowd, highlighting the nearly decade-long project’s history and importance.

HIAC Executive Director Marcie Saquing said the group’s prior executive director, Paula Uusitalo, who retired earlier this year, had the dream to build a new center to serve the kupuna and challenged adults of the community.

“So Paula never gave up,” she said. “Her hopes and dreams of completing our new center for our participants and their families kept her striving. So here we are today.”

Addressing Uusitalo, and sharing words of wisdom from her tutu, Saquing said that with patience, good things will come.

“The completion of this magnificent building, ready to serve all of our kupuna and challenged adults, ready to serve their families and our community, I would say that’s a pretty good thing,” she said. “So on behalf of our participants, their families, on behalf of our board of directors, our staff and our entire community, thank you, Paula. Thank you so very much for not letting your hopes and dreams and vision fade away that’s right here before us today.”

“We are amazed, all of us, that this is really here,” Uusitalo told the crowd “Our vision and dream has come true.”

The dream has only become a reality because of the partnership with Keith Kato and the Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation, she said.

According to Saquing, HIAC is licensed to serve 105 individuals, but is currently serving between 63 and 70 on a daily basis.

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Once the new facility is running smoothly, the goal is to look at opportunities to potentially open day centers in Puna and Honokaa, she said.

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