Giving Back
P.O. Box 791339
Paia, HI 96779
Phone: 808-573-3109




MindAlert: Recognizing Innovations in Mental Fitness Programming for Older Adults

The American Society on Aging, in collaboration with MetLife Foundation, is pleased to announce that the Move with Balance program was selected as the winner of the 2012 MindAlert Award in the category for programs designed to enhance mental fitness for the general population of older adults.

The MindAlert Award is designed to recognize outstanding programs throughout the United States that have been developed to improve mental stimulation and creative outlets in later life. The award recognizes high-quality, innovative programs that enhance functioning and quality of life, or prevent functional decline, among older adults. Research has shown that cognitive decline is not an inevitable part of the aging process. New findings in brain health research offer a striking, newer model of aging as a time of brain health and growth in which elders may lead qualitatively better lives—lives filled with more knowledge, wisdom, and an increased capacity to contribute to society.

The Move with Balance program of Giving Back in Paia, Hawaii, is a unique, cutting-edge program that uses movement to help prevent falls and enhance cognitive function in older adults. Founded in 1994, the program has been developed over the past eighteen years, integrating research in vision training, kinesiology, and brain plasticity. The program carries out its mission of enhancing quality of life for older adults by pairing active elders with frail elders in loving intergenerational relationships.
The Move with Balance program will be honored at the National Forum on Brain Health, held on March 29, 2012, in Washington, D.C., during the Aging in America Conference.

Spokesperson Karen Peterson said, “On behalf of our nonprofit Giving Back, I am thrilled to receive this prestigious award for our Move With Balance program. I’d like to thank the Review Committee, MetLife, and the American Society on Aging for honoring us with the MindAlert Award 2012.”

“’The Review Committee found the Move with Balance model to be innovative, unique, and easily replicable, and we are extremely pleased to have an intergenerational program named the recipient of this year’s award,’ said MindAlert Review Committee Member Ruth Heller, Program Director at the University of Oregon’s Osher Lifelong Learning Center in Eugene, Oregon. Review Committee members noted that this is a program that truly engages older adults cognitively, physically, and socially.”

The mission of Giving Back is to enhance the lives of all older adults by pairing active seniors with frail elders in loving intergenerational relationships. We meet this challenge by offering learning opportunities that include integrated movements, vision training, confidence and balance exercise skills in our goal of preventing injuries from falls and enhancing cognitive skills for all seniors.

Awards and Recognition

October 19, 2010

The Hawaii Pacific Gerontology Society awarded Karen Peterson the Na Lima Kokua (Helping Hands Across the Ages) Award at their 2 day conference on Oahu called "Preparing for the Aging Tsunami : Hawaii and the Pacific Rim's Perspectives. The award recognizes individuals who have helped to enhance the image of aging, promoted the field of gerontology, or strived to make a qunique contribution to the elderly. Karen Peterson is the Program Director of the Giving Back Fall Prevention Project, which serves 1,100 elders on Maui.

2010 Women of Maui County honored

Karen Peterson of Giving Back was one of 55 women of Maui County recently honored.

Reposted from Maui County website:
Each year in the month of March the history of women is celebrated. In March 2010, the Maui County Committee on the Status of Women celebrated the history and achievements of Maui County women.
The committee chose 55 women to honor in a booklet from the following categories: the arts, business, community organizations, cultural, educational, nonprofit, political and religious fields. 
View the booklet here.

Mentoring program ‘Giving Back’ earns award for $15,000 - | The Maui News

Karen Peterson and Mayor Charmine Tavaras
Mentoring program ‘Giving Back’ earns award for $15,000 - The Maui News: "Mentoring program ‘Giving Back’ earns award for $15,000
POSTED: March 21, 2010

WAILEA - 'Giving Back,' a local nonprofit program that trains senior citizens to be mentors, recently received one of 10 annual Mutual of America Foundation $15,000 Community Partnership Awards at the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.

The award was for the 'Giving Back Fall Prevention Project,' which is a collaboration involving Giving Back, Kaunoa Senior Services and the Maui District Health Office.
Giving Back trains active senior citizens as mentors, who then work with the frail elderly practicing Brain Gym, vision-improvement exercises and other integrated movements. Activities benefit both mentors and mentees.

The program is held at a Kaunoa lunch site, and funding and independent program evaluations are Health Office functions.

Mutual of America Foundation also presented a special coin to honor seven project participants: Lorrin Pang, Jeny Bissell and Mary Santa Maria of the Health Department; Leola Muromoto of Kaunoa Center; Steve Sussman of Maui Consults; Rick Ortiz of The Mac Pro; and Peggy Sanches, board president and mentor of Giving Back.

Officials of the nonprofit said they will use the award funds to expand the Maui program and help replicate it elsewhere. For more information, see"
Thomas Gilliam, Mutual of America; Karen Peterson, Giving Back; Ted Herman, Mutual of America

Giving Back Named Merit Finalist for the 2009 Mutual of America Community Partnership Award

Giving Back- Fall Prevention Project of Paia, Hawaii, Recognized for Successful Partnership

New York, NY (November 19, 2009) --- Thomas J. Moran, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mutual of America Life Insurance Company, announced today that Giving Back
Fall Prevention Project, Paia, Hawaii, was named a Merit Finalist for the 2009 Mutual of America Community Partnership Award. The project, developed by Giving Back, received the award for recruiting and training active seniors to mentor frail, at-risk elders in movement exercises that enhance balance, vision, coordination and cognitive functions.
Giving Back
Fall Prevention Project keeps active mentors healthy and engaged in their communities, and gives frail elders an effective way to prevent injuries due to falls, which are the leading cause of fatalities and injury-related hospitalizations among Hawaii residents age 65 and older. All the seniors involved benefit and have the opportunity to make new friends and have fun together.

“Our society worships youth and discards the elderly. I’d like to see that change,” says Karen Peterson, founder and executive director of Giving Back. “This program is about honoring our elders, keeping them healthy and fit so they can
give back their gifts to the community.”
Now in its fourteenth year, the Mutual of America Community Partnership Award has recognized 140 partnerships from cities and towns across America, expanding public awareness of their work and helping them attract additional partners and new sponsors.
Criteria for the Community Partnership Award The criteria for the Community Partnership Award are the duration of the partnership (a minimum of one year), a demonstration that the partnership has made a difference, the ability of the partnership to be replicated and stimulate new ideas for partnerships to address social issues, and the partnership’s commitment to advancing the mission and principles of the organization.

Click here to read the full Press Release.

Genius of Aging- Inspring Kupuna

Giving Back and Karen Peterson were spotlighted in this KGMB9 television special. The program looked at the different ways Seniors are impacting the communities throughout Hawaii. Visit the video section of our website to watch the Giving Back segment by clicking here.

2008 Governors Volunteer Recognition Awards

Senior- 60+
Kenneth Chun
Patricia Griffin
Florence Parkhurst
Adele Rugg
Margaret Sanches---
The Baby Hui: Infants and Toddlers
Chaminade University of Honolulu
The Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Foundation
Giving Back (Senior Citizen Volunteers)-
Maui Shrine Club of the Aloha Temple
Project Dana

Giving Back Volunteer wins 60+ Senior Citizen Volunteer Award in Hawaii
Giving Back is Finalist for Governor’s Volunteer Recognition Award
Margaret “Peggy “ Sanches, one of Giving Back’s volunteers, was the WINNER in the 60+ Senior Citizen category for the state of Hawaii.
Giving Back was one of 5 finalists in the Organization category. Executive Director Karen Peterson nominated the Giving Back mentors as a group and then nominated one mentor Peggy Sanches for the awards. “I am thrilled that Peggy won and that
Giving Back was a finalist. The Giving Back volunteers are so dedicated and loving, and they need to be regularly honored.” The winners were announced March 21 at the Governor’s Award Dinner on Oahu.
Giving Back is a non-profit agency whose programs pair senior citizen mentors with children and frail elders.  They work together doing Brain Gym® and other integrative movements to improve everyone’s cognitive skills, balance, coordination, and well-being.
To become a Giving Back mentor, please call 573-3109 or visit
This award is on behalf of Governor Linda Lingle and the Hawaii Commission for National and Community Service, in celebration of volunteers across Hawaii. The Governor’s Volunteer Award Recognition recognizes individuals and organizations for their dedication, commitment, and determination in promoting and supporting volunteerism throughout Hawaii. It is the highest honor bestowed by the Hawaii Commission for National and Community Service with the purpose of inspiring individuals to make a positive impact on the lives of people who nee it and places where it can make a difference.

The Lei Ceremony

From the Maui News
Farm's anniversary offer sees giving go full circle and then some
KULA – The nonprofit Giving Back program has earned 250 lei because Paradise Flower Farms Inc. wants to celebrate its 25th anniversary by giving back to the community.

Earlier this year, the company invited nonprofit agencies on Maui to write an essay answering the question, "What would your organization do with 250 lei?" Among the possibilities it suggested were honoring unsung heroes or raising funds.

The company received 30 entries.

Giving Back is a nonprofit agency whose program, Kupuna & Keiki Together, trains Maui senior citizens and pairs them with schoolchildren in mentoring relationships. Through this intergenerational program, seniors share skills, experience, knowledge and love with the youngsters.

Giving Back will use the lei in a "Double Honoring Ceremony" at each school it services at the end of the program year.

In this ceremony, the children will form one circle and the seniors will form another ring around the children. Each senior will read a poem or short note of love and remembrance, and present a child with a lei. Then, each child will read a note or present a drawing, and give the senior mentor a lei.

This exchange of good feelings, love and respect will continue around the circle until all seniors and children have been honored.

"Our staff voted for this project from the point of view that it embodies everything that we in Hawaii hold dear about the giving of lei," said Paradise Flower Farms co-owner Teena Rasmussen. "It is truly a symbol of love, admiration, respect and friendship."

Giving Back Executive Director Karen Peterson said, "We are thrilled to win this contest, and want to thank Paradise Flower Farms Inc. for seeing the importance of our program. Our seniors and children will be delighted."
From the Maui News                                                                                                        
Flower farm, other help seniors and pupils celebrate 'Giving Back'
Friday 17 June 2005

About 200 children and senior citizens at Kamali'i and Pukalani elementary schools honored one another in Double Honoring Lei Ceremonies last month, organized by the nonprofit Giving Back.
In the ceremony, the children formed a circle with the seniors forming a ring around the children.  Each senior presented each child with a special card and a lei and said, "I honor you."  Then each child presented each senior citizen with a card and a lei and said, "I honor you."
Paradise Flower Farms gave life to the ceremony by providing 250 lei as part of its 25th anniversary effort to give back to the community.  Giving Back won the essay contest, in which 30 nonprofits entered, answering the question" "what would your organization do with 250 lei?"
Karen Petersobnm executive director of Giving Back, answered by outlining the Double Honoring Lei Ceremony, which ended up simming the essay contest and 250 lei.
Giving Back's Brain Gym Intergenerational Mentoring Program (also called Kupuna and Keiki Together) trains senior citizens and pairs them with schoolchildren in mentoring relationships. through this program the seniors share skills, experience, knowledge, and love with the youngsters.
In the winning esssay, Giving Back also said the ceremony would be a fundraising project with businesses and groups "sponsoring" lei.  The donors included Pukalani Superette, Mayor Alan Arakawa Kokua Fund, Mana Foods, Anthony's Coffee Co., Postal Plus-Kihei, Aloha Serenity, Jam Shishido, and Hermine Harman.
About $1,000 was raised for the program, saaid Karen Peterson, executive director of Giving Back.