Meeting Thursday for volunteer event; participant lists due soon

The spirit of volunteerism on Kaua‘i will be celebrated April 23.

That is when volunteers, possibly thousands, are to be recognized during the Pu‘uwai Aloha: A Giving heart, a free concert to be staged at the Vidinha Stadium, Mayor Bryan Baptiste announced during a recent meeting with reporters at his office in the Lihu‘e Civic Center.

Volunteerism has been one of the hallmarks of Baptiste’s administration.

The use of volunteers has supplemented county services, saving county taxpayers several hundred thousand dollars each year, county officials haves said.

For instance, the use of volunteers for the Gateway beautification project by the Lihu‘e Airport, an undertaking launched by Baptiste a little less than four years ago, has saved the county about $350,000 a year, according to Eddie Sarita, who managed the project.

That amount is about what a commercial contractor would have charged the county each year, through a contract, to maintain the landscaping project, Sarita said.

The upcoming event to honor volunteers will be held in conjunction with National Volunteer Week, county officials said.

The April 23rd event will feature top-name Hawai‘i entertainers including Grammy nominee Raiatea Helm, Na Hoku Hanohano award winners Andy Bumatai, Robi Kahakalau, Makaha Sons and Maunalua, along with Kaua‘i natives Glenn Medeiros and Christi Parangao. Mele Apana will host the event.

Invitation to the event will be based on how much someone has given of themselves, said Art Umezu, Kaua‘i film commissioner and one of the event organizers.

“The criterion being used to determine if someone should be invited to the concert is that he or she must be an active volunteer — a person who an organization can consistently count on to help out — not someone who volunteers once or twice and then disappears from the radar screen,” Umezu said in a news release.

Baptiste said the idea to honor the volunteers on a massive scale came up two years ago during conversations with community members Barbara Curl and Laurie Ho.

“I believe that our island has a lot of volunteers and I really wanted to do something special to honor them,” Baptiste said. “It’s an idea that’s been incubating for a couple of years and now it’s taking shape,” Baptiste said in a news release.

A committee of county employees has collected names of volunteers from organizations across the island.

So far, nearly 475 groups have been contacted and have been asked to submit lists of their volunteers, Baptiste said.

Kaua‘i resident John-Paul Gutweniger has been putting all of the volunteers’ names into an electronic file and has entered more than 2,000 names to date.

Event organizers are encouraging representatives of other groups, as well as volunteers who haven’t heard about the April 23rd event yet, to contact either Umezu, aumezu@kauai.gov or 241-6390, Catherine Stovall, cstovall@kauai.gov or 241-6398, or Mary Daubert, the county’s public information officer, at mdaubert@kauai.gov or 241-6300.

“We’d like to get the word out about Pu‘uwai Aloha to as many people as possible,” Stovall said in a news release. “It would also be really helpful if those who know about it would tell others about the event.”

The deadline for submitting volunteers’ names is March 15.

To find out more about participating in the upcoming event, leaders of Kaua‘i organizations have been invited to attend a planning meeting Thursday at 2:30 p.m. in conference room 1 and conference room 2 at the Lihu‘e Civic Center.

Major sponsors of the Pu‘uwai Aloha event include DMB Associates Inc., Kawailoa Development and King Auto Center.

Other sponsors include: Aloha Beach Resort, Avis Rent a Car, Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa, Kaua‘i Marriott Resort & Beach Club, Kaua‘i Vacation Rentals, Princeville Resort, Sheraton Kaua‘i Resort and The Courtyard by Marriott Kaua‘i at Waipouli Beach.

For more information on the upcoming event, contact Daubert at 241.6303.

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