At 91, ‘Auntie Dot’ has devoted her life to helping others

By Tyne Phillips, Star-Advertiser

Dorothy Hoe, 91, who also answers to the name “Auntie Dot,” has been taking care of senior citizens for decades.

Starting out in social work, she would go door to door assisting seniors in their home and connecting them with specialists. Hoe distinctly remembers one time when she knocked on one person’s door and saw one pill in a jar. The senior told her that she was saving it for an “emergency” because she couldn’t afford to go see a medical expert and didn’t know what services were available to her. This prompted Hoe to head to the state Capitol to urge lawmakers to award funding for nurses to visit homebound seniors.

Hoe worked for Catholic Charities Hawaii, back when it was called Catholic Social Service. She not only helped establish nurse home visits, she also contributed to getting a meal-delivery company to start making home visits to seniors.

Later she continued her mission of helping others by volunteering at Japanese-language radio station KZOO radio. Twice a month she would go on the air for 30 minutes and tell people where they could get help from different organizations, companies, the city and the state. After each radio show she would spend hours answering the phone and helping callers. She did this for more than 40 years.

Dorothy Hoe, right, and Ivan Hoe.

“If I could do this on the radio for the Japanese non-English- speaking, what about the Korean, the Chinese, the Filipino and Micronesian?” said Hoe. “I wanted someone like me in the different cultures.”

Despite retiring in 2013, KZOO radio still pays for her phone line because of how much help she is to the senior community. Every week, she takes calls and helps connect seniors in need to the people who can help them, helping her peers herself when she can.

And she doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.

“All my life — my adult life — I love to do things. I came from the poor. My parents were immigrants. They didn’t speak English, they didn’t read, write English,” Hoe explained.

“If my mother gave me money to pay for the gas, for the water, for this, for that, I would go — even if I was 12 years old — because my parents didn’t know how to read or write English.”

Hoe recalls a happy feeling and a sense of fulfillment for getting to help out her parents, who immigrated from Okinawa.

When her mom was diagnosed with cancer, she cared for her until she died.

Hoe credits her close relationship with her parents with instilling in her the desire to help seniors.

“It doesn’t take money to help other people … and I feel good doing it,” said Hoe. “That’s what gives me the drive to continue.”

Hoe follows a mantra that no one can take material things with them when they die, but they can take the good they’ve done for other people with them.

She says she’ll never turn away anyone and works with the city’s Elderly Affairs Division to connect callers with caseworkers or officials who can help them with their situation.

When she is not connecting members of the community with the resources available, Hoe spends time with her husband, Ivan Hoe, who says he is extremely proud of his wife and calls her “humble.” The couple has been married for around 65 years and have three children.

She also plays piano almost every day to keep her mind sharp and tends to her flourishing garden.

“We have a good life,” she said.

Dorothy Hoe receives phone calls on her KZOO radio line at 735-9333.

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