The Elections seem to bring out complainers in all of us. So-and-so just doesn’t care about the poor/homeless/business owners/ middle class/elderly/children. So-and-so is self-centered/dumb/arrogant/myopic/naïve/ignorant. I hear these statements every day, and, to be honest, I get a little tired of the endless whining and grouchiness.
While I can certainly be a grouch, too, about ten years ago I made a commitment to work on creating the community I want. By this, I mean that I would no longer complain about that which I could not affect, and I would choose the things I value in my community and try to make a difference. More action, less talk.
Here are some ideas and resources that can help you create the Kona, Hawaii community you want.
Community Services Organizations in Kona, Hawaii
As a Rotarian, I am heavily biased toward the Rotary Club of Kona. There is also a Sunrise Club and a Mauka Club. Rotary is an international service organization with the motto, “Service Above Self.”
We also have very active Lions Clubs, Shriners, and some very active churches that do a lot of good in the community. Living Stones has several good outreach programs. The Salvation Army in Kona also does a lot of good. Google, any of these, to find out how you can become involved.
One of the most active groups in Kona is the American Association of University Women. They put on a wonderful G.E.M.S. (Girls Exploring Math and Science) day every year. Help them and you will be helping hundreds of kids in Kona a year.
All of the local schools would welcome gifts of school supplies-backpacks, notebooks, pencils, etc.—at any time. Some of our Kona schools have more than 60% of students receiving subsidized lunches, so donations of new school supplies are always welcome. The Salvation Army would also welcome donations for their pre-school and other outreach programs.
Another plug for the Rotary Club of Kona: it gives over $20,000 a year in scholarships to local students, and provides a free vision test to hundreds of local third graders every year.
Kudos to the Lions Clubs who provide hearing tests and some vision screening, too.
Policing / Crime
Join a neighborhood watch or form one with your neighbors. Call Crime Stoppers if you have information about criminal activity. Call the non-emergency police numbers for things that don’t require a 911 call. Don’t assume someone else is calling in problems. The Hawaii Police Department has an excellent community policing program. Give the station a call and see how you can be part of making Kona a safe and comfortable place to live.
Litter / Dumping
I see a guy going for a stroll just about every morning at the time I walk my dog. I often see him with a small bag he uses to pick up roadside garbage. He’s creating the community in which he wants to live. I may also add that his good deeds are contagious.
Call the County to report abandoned vehicles. Get the make, model, color, and plate numbers prior to calling.
Supporting Local Agriculture Food security for Hawaii Island is abysmal, with most estimates putting the percentage of our food that is imported at 70%-90%. This, of course, will be a big problem in a time of natural disaster, shipping stoppage, or closed airport. It also means that we are sending a huge amount of money off-island.
Visiting one of our farmers’ markets once a week is a good start. There are markets in South Kona, Keauhou, Kailua Village, and several in Waimea. Shift just $50 a week to our local farming economy and you’ll add $2600 a year to our local economy. Forty families doing this would add $100,000 and probably a job or two to our economy.
Supporting Local Business
The numbers are the same: shift $50 a week to a locally-owned business and you’ll probably keep about $1,800 a year on the island (based on 70% of money spent on local businesses staying here). Sixty people doing this a year would add about $100,000 and probably a job to our local economy. Sounds like a pretty good investment to me!
Helping to Create Fun
Though it’s not my thing, there is a group in West Hawaii working to create a motor park, where those who share a love a cars and off-roading can meet and engage in safe motorsports. If it’s your thing, get in touch and work together to get this done.
Another group is working to provide a safe, low-impact shooting range for West Hawaii. This would be funded by the taxes hunters and shooting enthusiasts pay on ammo and hunting licenses. To be located by the large dump in the Kohala region, this shooting range would provide many opportunities for a fun and safe recreational activity.
There are many, many groups that are working to expand the opportunities for Hawaii residents and visitors to get outdoors and get moving. People Advocacy for Trails and Hiking (PATH) has many programs to help kids learn responsible cycling, and they are great advocates for outdoor recreation.
Another local gem is the Aloha Performing Arts Company. They put on six major productions a year at the Aloha Theater. Audition if you are interested in acting. Contribute your time or money if want to support excellent community theater, and, of course, buy tickets and attend the productions!
Providing Support to Our Residents
I’d also like to draw attention to a few excellent non-profits that are always welcoming new volunteers. Hospice of Kona is, hands-down, one of the best-run non-profits in Kona. They provide excellent end-of-life care and they are always very appreciative of volunteer time (and donations!).
Deep and Beyond is a wonderful group of volunteers from the University of Nations. They provide outdoor recreation activities—hiking and snorkeling—to those who face physical limitations.
Another great group is the Special Olympics of West Hawaii. Last summer I volunteered a day to help with their Bocce ball tournament and it was one of the best days of my year (and I had A LOT of great days last year). Keep them in mind if you want to create a community that cares for everyone.
My point of this blog is not to tell you what to do; instead, it’s to encourage you to follow your heart and get involved with something that works for you.