Enjoying more than breakfast on Labor Day 2005

PUA LOKE — The sun was shining, the trades were blowing, and yet, among the several hundred people that took in the Labor Day breakfast, the subject of Hurricane Katrina rekindled memories of their personal survival experiences following Hurricane Iniki.

The 27th Annual Labor Day Breakfast hosted by the Lihu‘e United Church at their Parish Hall, brought out about 300 people who could opt for eat-in, or take-out, although the majority of the morning diners settled for the former, taking advantage of the opportunity to meet up with old community friends and catch up on the latest events.

Gwen Hamabata, proprietress of the popular Green Gardens restaurant that recently closed its doors, made the trip over from Hanapepe and enjoyed the morning in Lihu‘e, noting that now that she closed the restaurant, even she, as a diner needs to search out good places to enjoy fish.

Vicky Thrift, co-chair of this year’s breakfast, noted that with about an hour left for serving, they had already dispensed over 200 meals, well in line with their budgeted amount.

Thrift, who later settled in to enjoy the breakfast with her husband Wayne, credited the success of the event to the “steering committee” comprised of five workers: Nina Saraos, who spent part of her morning tickling the ivories of a piano for entertainment, Marlena Bunao, Nina Magoun, Lyn Collison, Dana Knapp, and herself.

Proceeds from the event will be contributed to one of the the Youth Community Outreach Programs following the tallying of results.

Nadia Saraos, 7, was one of the several hundred diners and said the meal was “good,” the youngster settling on a menu of egg (scrambled), sausage, watermelon, and some starfruit for flavor, washing everything down with a cup of juice.

In the tiny Parish Hall kitchen, dishwashers worked among three crews – one preparing fresh fruit, another cranking out an endless supply of breakfast sausage, and another crew churning out scrambled eggs to replenish the serving line.

“You want a sample?” Richard Irwin, one of the cooks asked. “There’re lots of samples in here.”

His co-worker, Paul Suguitan, dipped into a plate containing coffee cake and other baked goods to keep the cooks’ spirits up while they were enveloped in aroma that wafted across the lawn of the church.

Outside in the craft area, Phyllis Paler, one of the vendors, noted that the church was already involved in helping with the recovery efforts from Hurricane Katrina.

Working through the General Board of Global Ministries, UMCOR Sager Brown, Paler said about 10 members of the church have already organized and will be shipping personal health kits to the UMCOR warehouse in Louisiana.

“They need supplies,” Paler said, referring to a printout of a website hosted by the UM-COR hotline. “They also need a lot of cleaning supplies.”

Paler said that the church normally assembles health kits, but this year, the need was prioritized due to the Gulf coast hurricane.

“The members are shipping them directly to the warehouse in a flat rate box,” Paler explained. The kits, which are packaged in a gallon-sized freezer bag, fit four in one of the boxes, and rather than lose time trying to collectively ship the items, the members will ship the kits as soon as they’re ready.

“We have a list on what goes in the kits at the church office,” Paler noted, pointing out that the UMCO warehouse, located west of where Katrina came ashore, was not that badly damaged, but they do have about 900 displaced families to care for.

Paler, a retired educator, remembers what it was like to bring back items from the mainland following Iniki, and the plight of Katrina’s victims spurred her to action, her humanitarian gestures taking equal billing to her offering of sewn goods that she had on display.

As the clock wound down towards the serving cutoff, a group of motorcycle enthusiasts made their entrance in a symphonic roar, and Michael Ratcliffe emerged from behind the cars, “This is my wife’s breakfast. Gotta hurry.”


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