Updated: October 1, 2022
Maui’s Jojo Apo served more than 40 years as a Maui County lifeguard at the Wailuku Pool. Over that period, she taught countless keiki to swim, led decades of water aerobics classes for seniors, and joyfully opened the pool up for Hale Makua residents to come swimming.
Now, a resident at Hale Makua herself, the Activities team at the facility arranged for Apo to make a special return to the Wailuku Pool to reunite with old friends and family, and do what she loves the most, swim.
Teresa Lopes, Kahului Activities Director at Hale Makua, remembers calling all the different pools around Maui to find someone who would accommodate Hale Makua’s residents. When Apo was working as a lifeguard, she closed the pool for an hour each week so Hale Makua residents could have the pool to themselves. Teresa remembers placing residents on floating devices and “watching them happily floating away, feeling a sense of independence that they had lost for so many years.”
“She was the only one that would help me in the 90s when I was looking for somebody,” Lopes said. “To see her come full circle and her now at Hale Makua and to be able to go swimming again, it’s just so heartwarming.”
Apo also lost her independence when her leg was amputated a few years back. When she came to Hale Makua to receive care, she admits that she was grieving the loss of her leg, but after time had a change in heart.
When Hale Makua staff brought Apo back to the Wailuku Pool this summer, she was greeted by a handful of old colleagues, friends, and family. Nani Wolfson, Apo’s former colleague who Jojo trained, assisted Apo in the water that day.
“When Apo got into the pool, she felt the warm hug of the water surrounding her as she peacefully closed her eyes, knowing she was finally back in the water where she belonged,” according to Hale Makua.