Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay goes the distance

  • Photo courtesy Margie Bennett

    Each year the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay is honored with the gift of giving. The “Christmas Angels” is its program to help make sure everyone has some holiday cheer. Holiday gifts were delivered to delivered to 94 foster kids on Kauai. From left: From left: Deanna Schafer, Lisa Rapozo, Tony Motta, Larry Wharton, Margie Bennett, Marcia Ota, Kirstie Kashima, Lee-Ann Wheelden, Sulieta Makisi-Manu and Cynthia Jimenez. Schafer, Bennett, Motta and Wharton are Rotarians. Others are with child welfare services.

There’s a simple way to sum up the members of the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay: They are good people.

These fine folks are dedicated to serving the community and doing their part to make it the best it can be. They are high energy, enthusiastic, passionate, pleasant and pretty darn smart, too.

Perhaps those are some of the reasons why Saturday’s Black &White Ball at the St. Regis Princeville Resort was such a festive, fun affair that attracted about 125 people and raised around $30,000. The news gets even better because the Rotary Club will put that money to great use, in a number of ways to benefit Kauai.

It’s all about serving others when it comes to the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay. Consider just a few of the projects it has been involved in and has been a leader in: Rescue tubes, automated external defibrillators (AEDs), homegrown teachers, and the restoration of the Hanalei Pier.

These are projects that save lives, that educate our keiki and that saved one of Kauai’s most treasured sites.

There’s much more.

The Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay has helped with raising money for the pavilion at the Kilauea agriculture center. It will be hosting the inaugural Catch a Wave Business Competition. It’s offering free CPR classes. Its members volunteer at the Kilauea food pantry, contribute to Aloha Angels that benefits our schools, clean roadsides and buy Christmas gifts for foster children.

Most of us can’t keep up with them.

Needless to say, their efforts make a big difference and go toward creating a safer, healthier and happier Kauai.

During the Black &White Ball, which included a wine tasting, silent and live auctions, music and dinner, master of ceremonies Dennis Pezzato had this to say: “The Rotary Club is full of the people who do all the hard lifting and bending and the rest of us are fortunate enough that we just follow their lead and we make contributions as we are able to. To me, that’s a partnership.”

He praised the community for that partnership.

“Without all of you supporting these functions, there wouldn’t be much happening with the Rotary Club,” he said.

“I feel like this is more a celebration of that partnership than it is a fundraiser,” Pezzato added

An example of the generosity that flows within this club happened Saturday when one man paid more than $1,000 for a live auction item of two nights at the St. Regis, then turned around and donated it back so it could be auctioned again.

Monica Oszust, president of the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay, said that yes, they were there to have fun and raise money. But she also noted their efforts, through the Heart of Gold campaign to purchase AEDs and donate them around the island, and their support of the Rescue Tube Foundation, is saving lives.

“You all know what the Rotary Club does for our community,” she said.

If you don’t, you should. And this, as Monica said, “is just the beginning.”

Of course, as is their style, they gave the credit to others.

“We can’t do any of this without you. You make it happen,” Monica said. “We only come up with these crazy ideas and deliver them, but it is your generosity that makes it a reality.”

The simple reality is, the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay deserves a big mahalo.

And a very, Merry Christmas, too.

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