Nominees Announced for Maui County’s Outstanding Older Americans Awards
* Updated May 14, 6:45 PM
The Maui County Office on Aging announced the nominees for the 52nd Annual Maui County’s Outstanding Older Americans awards. This year’s five nominees are: Daniel Bennett of Kaunakakai, Robert “Bob” Carroll of Hāna, John O’Hara of Hāna, Sue Sargent of Lahaina, and Mary Trotto of Kīhei.
The nominees will be recognized at a virtual recognition event on Thursday, May 20 from 10 to 11 a.m. The event will be broadcast live on Akakū Blue Channel 55. The celebration can also be viewed on Akakū’s website www.akaku.org, on Akakū’s Facebook Page, and via the Akakū mobile app for iOS.
May is designated Older Americans Month, and this year’s theme is “Communities of Strength.” The theme celebrates the resilient spirit of our kupuna, their families and community members enduring and thriving through a year of many changes. Even then, individuals like our nominees never cease to “give back” and make their communities a better place. A community is only as strong as its individual members supporting each other and crafting a legacy for the future.
Here are the bios of each nominee:
Shirley “Sue” Sargent: Sargent, 83, has been nominated for the tireless and selfless compassion
that she has for others. For more than 19 years, she has been working at Arc of Maui as a personal assistant. Every Sunday, she assists five adults with special needs at the Nāpili group home. She has a personal
client she cares for five days a week. Sargent effortlessly incorporates her client with her daily activities such as running errands, attending meetings and visiting the coffee shop.
Every day, Sue also feeds the feral cats around her neighborhood. Recently, she and her neighbors
managed to spay and neuter 35 cats to control the colonyʻs population.
As a member and community aid of His Grace Ministries church in Lahaina, Sargent volunteers with various
food distributions and community events put on by the church. As a member of their outreach team, she helps fundraise money through bake sales and garage sales.
During the holiday season, Sargent enjoys partnering with the Salvation Army as a bell ringer. She and her
clients get together to entertain shoppers in hopes to raise money and provide holiday cheer outside of
She is busy all week long. She allows herself one day off, which she can enjoy with her husband. Together, they like to meet up with friends, visit different restaurants, hang out at the yacht club, and sometimes, venture to Upcountry to enjoy the scenery. On her days off, she can be found either at the art gallery or the jewelry store, both of which they own. Although Sargent lives a very busy and active life as an Older American, she enjoys helping others and being able to make a positive impact in all of their lives.
Daniel “Dan” Bennett: Bennett, 77, is a well-known member of the Molokaʻi Community. He is a founding member of Molokaʻi Arts Center, a non-profit organization sponsoring arts education and activities. As the owner of Bennett Pottery, he has taught hundreds of Molokaʻi residents, including keiki and kupuna the art of ceramics.
Bennett, a former math teacher at Molokaʻi High, was very involved with the students and the community. During his tenure at Molokaʻi High, he supported the basketball team often. Although retired, he is still very engaged with community marches and is still passionate about current events on Molokaʻi.
For more than 20 years, Bennett volunteered with Nature Conservancy Earth Day Committee. He helped with planning the Annual Earth Day celebrations, which attracted about 1,000 community members each year.
During his free time, Bennett enjoys surfing. For more than 10 years, he has organized Keiki Surf Meets. He and other members of the surf community hold the surf meets, judge and score the participants and
award the winners with prizes. To this day, these meets are still very popular amongst the Molokaʻi youth.
John O’Hara: O’Hara, 71, is nominated for his dedication and volunteerism in preserving the beauty of East Maui. For three years, John has served as Vice Chairman of Ke Ao Hali’i, a committee created to protect the Hāna Coast. Through his past efforts, the organization received funding for eight paid positions. He has testified at various County hearings, which led to being Ke Ao Hali’i being granted several parcels of land.
As a result, John and other volunteers use this land to identify and address historic and cultural concerns for heiau; promote environmental incentives for endangered wildlife; and provide educational opportunities for watershed management and edible plant food sources.
OʻHara also is involved with an organization committed to protecting the Iwi at Hāmoa. In the past, Iwi, or
ancestral bones were removed and taken to an off-site location. However, as part of Mr. O’Hara and the
group’s effort, the iwi were returned to its rightful burial grounds at Hāmoa. Mr. O’Hara then influenced hotel management to educate visitors about the sacred nature of the area.
Recently, John joined the Kupuna of Hāna Council. He and other Kupuna meet and discuss various current events and possible issues in the Hana community. Through John’s various involvement in the community, future generations will be able to enjoy the Hana Coast as it was and as it should be for many years to come.
When he is not busy volunteering at the various East Maui organizations mentioned, John enjoys golfing, cleaning his yard and fixing lawn mowers and his classic truck.
Robert “Bob” Carroll: Carroll, 77, is being nominated for the time, talent and wisdom he has contributed to his community, across Maui County and through the state of Hawaiʻi. In his hometown in East Maui, Carroll has been committed to representing the needs of fellow Hāna residents and preserving the history of the beloved town.
For more than 40 years, he has been a consultant volunteer of Hāna Community Consultant. He has also served as Board President for the Hāna Maui Trust Board for almost 30 years.
On a larger scale, Carroll has been a Board Chair of the Maui Community Work Day and a member for the
Safe Communities of Maui County. He continues to sit on the Maui Adult Day Care Center Board of Directors, which helps make decisions regarding Kupuna at the various Day Care Centers. As a person with disability himself, Carroll is passionate of advocating for others with disabilities.
From 2005-2013, he also served on the Juvenile Justice State Advisory Council. For eight years, he played an integral role ensuring fair treatment for challenged youth and for advocating support to programs that aid the juvenile justice system.
Carroll’s most well-known achievement was serving on the Maui County Council, appointed to represent
East Maui. During his term, some of his accomplishments included an affordable housing project in Hāna and restoring the Waikamoi Flume, which now allows a resource of water for both residential and agricultural use. Although retired, Bob continues to work tirelessly alongside his Hāna residents and represents the voice of the community.
During his free time, he enjoys fishing, gardening and spending time with his family.
Dr. Mary Trotto: Trotto, 73, is a very influential icon in South Kīhei. She has been nominated for her incredible energy and her dedication to help others in her community. For more than 20 years, she has been an integral leader for Hale Kau Kau at St. Theresa Church.
Every month she puts in at least 180 hours volunteering to help feed more than 150 individuals per night, 365 days a year. They also prepare and deliver meals to 80 homebound individuals nightly.
For more than 10 years, Trotto has been volunteering with the South Maui Volunteers, an organization that focuses on building fencing and ramps at beaches, as well as dune restoration.
Also in South Kīhei, she puts in time tracking homeless issues for the Kīhei Community Association and monitoring the safety of Kalama Park with Kalama Park Action Team. In the last two years, Mary has been working with Hawaiʻi Hazards Awareness and Resilience Program, collaborating with State officials to create a plan for South Maui, in case of an emergency. In fact, she has been recently appointed by Councilmember Kelly King to study homeless/houseless issues in the County of Maui as part of the County of Maui’s Commission on Healing Solutions for Homelessness.
During her free time, Trotto enjoys traveling, canoe paddling, running and all other track and field events. She has been an active member for the United States of America Track & Field Association, where she was presented Masters Track & Field Athlete of the Year in 2013.
Trotto has participated in many races, from 5Ks to marathons to support nonprofit organizations. She ran the New York City marathon at the age of 63 and this year’s virtual race at age 73.
For many years, Trotto put together the “Stomp Out Hunger” campaign to raise money for Hale Kau Kau. This year the organization is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a Virtual fundraiser called “Season of Hope.”
This year also marks the 56th anniversary of the Older Americans Act of 1965. Many programs were created under the act to serve older adults in the United States.
The Maui County Office on Aging is proud to join many others across the nation in celebrating the achievements of its citizens.
For more information, contact the Maui County Office on Aging at 270-7755 or visit mauicountyadrc.org.