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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 11, 2010

5 Jefferson Award recipients driven to help

by Suzanne Roig
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Irene Takeshita

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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The Jefferson Awards for Public Service are given each year to ordinary people who do extraordinary things for the community. The awards are sponsored by The Honolulu Advertiser and Hawaii News Now.

Winnersí Profiles

This is the first of five profiles. For more on the Jefferson Award nominees, watch the Sunrise and 10 p.m. Hawaii News Now broadcasts on KGMB & KHNL.

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The four women and one man who were chosen as recipients of this year's Jefferson Award for Public Service all share a passion for helping others through education, activism or faith.

One person will be chosen at a luncheon Friday in Honolulu to represent the state at a national ceremony in June in Washington, D.C.

The recipients are: Irene Takeshita, Colleen Minami, Benedicto Galindo, Janis Loo and Bonnie Holcombe.

Initially the committee selected Patrick Shin, but he declined the award and is now in the Philippines, a trip he makes annually for volunteer work.

Takeshita, 65, was nominated by her daughter for her work teaching school-age children through senior citizens about preventing and controlling Type 2 diabetes.

The Pearl City resident, who is a retired public school teacher, travels around the state with her husband, Carl, teaching her curriculum: "Diabetes & You." Over the years, she has spoken to more than 5,000 children and about 2,500 adults throughout the state, in Saipan, the Mainland and on Guam.

The curriculum is sanctioned by the Hawai'i chapter of the American Diabetes Association and meet state educational standards.

And she's done this all as a volunteer.

"As the person nominating Irene, I wish I could nominate Carl as well," said Tracie Takeshita, her daughter. "They work as a team in their many volunteer commitments and in every aspect of their lives."

The fact that the nomination came from her daughter has made the selection that much more special, Takeshita said.

"It's such a fabulous honor," she said. "It's like the highest award you can achieve."

With or without recognition, her volunteer work is something she does because it is the right thing to do.

"You know I have something to share," Takeshita said. "I love science and I love children. The two go hand in hand."