A shared responsibility

This community cares. The Aug. Waimea Community Association Town Meeting showcased eight local non-profits that enrich lives: Waimea Lions Club, Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, North Hawaii Rotary Club, Friends of the Future and Tutu’s House, Coqui Free Waimea, Kohala Watershed Partnership, and Big Island Giving Tree.

The heart of the meeting was “Community Kuleana,” meaning responsibility.

Lions Club PR Chairman Jim McDonough outlined ongoing club activities: tending Church Row cherry trees for 30 years, sponsoring Angels on Wheels patient transportation, providing scholarships, school supply drives and school eye exams, along with collecting eyeglasses for donation. McDonough appealed for new members.

“It’s an aging organization; we need fresh thoughts,” he said.

Business First! Pau Hana, a Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club monthly networking event, offers “a good way to get connected to the Chamber,” according to Kirstin Kahaloa, their new executive director. Advocating for its more than 500 members, the Chamber aims to strengthen the local economy, promote community and educational opportunities, support networking, and facilitate political action on business issues.

A current North Hawaii Rotary project is the park behind Parker Ranch Center. The organization’s President Erik Jacobson said, “The goal is to make the park more accessible to the community.”

The Rotary helps in other ways: college scholarships, free dictionaries for third graders, insurance for the Waimea Christmas Twilight Parade, and funds for other community groups. Jacobson urged support of Rotary’s Oktoberfest and other fundraisers. The Rotary is open to the public and meets weekly, featuring community speakers.

Tutu’s House, Waimea’s popular wellness center, was launched years ago by Friends of the Future after gathering together “people on this island … so they had a voice in expressing cultural values,” according to Phyllis Fox, the organization’s treasurer. Tutu’s House spokeswoman Michelle Medeiros described the science projects offered, including Earl’s Garage and Fright Shop Haunted House. The non-profit’s Program Leader Lorraine Urbic urged community members to join or lead Tutu’s House classes.

“(I) love to see people take a deep breath as they arrive to take a class and learn something new,” she said. Workshops and monthly support groups foster healthy habits and offer resources for chronic conditions.

“Take out your phone and enter this number: 313-1094, the Coqui Free Hotline,” urged Coqui Free Waimea member Melora Purell. Her lively Coqui IQ quiz revealed coqui frogs migrating as plant stowaways and hitchhikers, and with the lack of effective predators, the frightening data on coqui fertility rates. People can help by tracking and catching frogs, participating in eradication and education campaigns, or donating money. Purell also works with Kohala Watershed Partnership, protecting and sustaining the watershed and Kohala Mountain’s forest.

Rhonda Bell described programs of Big Island Giving Tree, which helps working poor families and kupuna (elders) with fresh food and basic necessities. “Children come to help with delivering,” she said. “Seniors are lonely and love seeing children.”

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