By Tommy Noyes
The Friends of Kamalani coordinate community workdays, and you’re urged to pitch in by celebrating Earth Day in Lydgate Park on Saturday, April 20. Check-in is at the Main Pavilion at 7:30 a.m. There will be suitable tasks for all abilities, and lunch will be served to everyone.
A hundred Hawaiian Airlines global sales employees arrived on Kaua‘i last month for their annual three-day corporate conference. The morning of March 13 was devoted to their customary community service project. They applied the Friends of Kamalani’s event management system supported by the Kaua‘i Medical Reserve Corps, Malama Apapa, and the Surfrider Foundation. The County of Kaua‘i Department of Parks and also its Solid Waste Division support resulted in a more attractive Lydgate Park.
Volunteer Kula Schumacher started the proceedings with a “sense of place” address, followed by Mayor Derek Kawakami’s welcome.
“You could be anywhere in the world right now, but you’re here with us,” Kawakami said. “In Hawai‘i, we call our special places wahi pana. The Friends of Kamalani built this playground for our keiki and it’s one of our treasures. You folks sharing your aloha means the world to us. Mahalo nui loa for your love and aloha. This island will always be a second home for you, so please come back.”
Just like the upcoming Earth Day event, this workday included playground maintenance, litter and coastal marine debris patrols, and beach grooming at the swimming ponds.
For three months, Malama Apapa director and SCUBA diving instructor Scott Bacon has been removing sunken debris from the interior of the swimming ponds. Hawaiian Airlines volunteers working on the beach supported his operation. “Ten divers removed debris, and the beach crew was awesome. We cleared about 3,750 pounds of decaying wood — a new record for one day’s work.”
Tina Larsen, director of online travel agencies and distribution, said it was amazing to see the amount of work they could get done in such a little amount of time.
“We’re feeling quite happy with what we could contribute to the beach park and helping clean it up,” she said.
Hawaiian Airlines’ Theo Panagiotoulias, senior vice president-global sales and alliances, oversees their worldwide sales organization and alliance partnerships.
“The simplest things have such a profound impact. In the playground, all it took was some simple fresh colors to brighten it up, and now families and children take advantage of a beautiful environment in a natural setting. It’s just been an absolute honor for our team — I saw it on their faces and I saw it in their efforts — to make an important difference for the community’s enjoyment of this gorgeous place,” Panagiotoulias said.
Leesha Kawamura, senior manager sales support at Hawaiian Airlines, took on the role of event coordinator. She said everyone was hyped as they departed Kaua‘i.
“We’re so very thankful for being a part of this fantastic group of volunteers. One attendee from Korea who restored art work was deeply touched by this experience. He felt he has now left a part of him on Kaua‘i at the playground. This is special!” she said.
- Tommy Noyes is Kaua‘i Path’s executive director, a League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor and active with the Kaua‘i Medical Reserve Corps.