Yes, it’s after Feb. 14; let’s dance

KAPA‘A — Through the efforts of many hands, Kaua‘i’s kupuna enjoyed a Valentine dance Thursday.

Yes, it’s a day after Feb. 14, but Marta Hulsman, the site manager at the Kapa‘a Neighborhood Center felt that was when everyone could attend.

“They started bussing in from 8 a.m.,” said Melanie Okamoto of the county’s Office of Community Assistance. And, Bernard Carvalho, the director of that Office, was on hand to greet the kupuna as they arrived dressed in a wide variety of red attire.

Inside, five students from Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School were busy bussing tables, taking out small platters of assorted fresh fruit and returning with empty plates.

“Jessie wanted to organize a dance for the seniors,” said Jodi Gusman, the advisor/chaperone for the students. “But someone already beat her to it, so they decided they would just come to help instead.”

Gusman said the students were scheduled to help serve the refreshments, the lunch catered by Wailua Family Restaurant and help clean up afterwards.

The five students — Jessie Chang, Courtney Contrades, Renee Sauceda, Keani Horita and Anna Chong — are part of the school’s leadership class, Gusman said.

“They are a very active bunch. They do a community service project almost every month,” she said. “Last month, Anna organized a school dance and through that event, she raised about $1,000 that went to a Breast Cancer Awareness run in San Diego.”

Additionally, Gusman said Horita is in the midst of planning for a Wigs for Kids event.

“It’s for kids with cancer who don’t have enough money to get wigs,” Horita said. “All people have to do is give 10 to 12 inches of their hair. This contribution will go towards making wigs for these children in need.”

Everything is moving smoothly for Horita’s project which she anticipates will take place in March. There is one obstacle which she is trying to overcome — do you know a hairdresser who can cut the hair?

Gusman said earlier, the students sold roses at school with the profits being turned over to the Kapa‘a seniors.

“We also sang for the seniors at the Wilcox Day Care,” said Chong.

But, that aside, the students were quick to jump in a join the seniors in a round of line dancing, taking time to chat with Sam Dunn, visiting from Scotland.

“We know how to do this kind of dancing,” the Scottish visitor said, smiling from behind his all-black attire contrasted with a bright red tie.

Aaron Uyeda, who has an office at the Kapa‘a Neighborhood Center, said they could have held the event at another venue, but Hulsman wanted to have something “more cozy,” so they held the event in Kapa‘a.

“But I almost thought we couldn’t do it,” Uyeda said. “Yesterday, the construction crews were going strong with the groundwork between the center and the pool. This morning, I talked with them and they agreed to work on a portion further down from the center.”

That arrangement helped with the parking which overflowed the narrow back street onto the lawn of the neighborhood center.

Hulsman was everywhere — dancing, leading and doing emcee duty. But in the back of her mind were tickets for the drawing which will earn a hand-made quilt for some lucky ticket holder.

That drawing will take place Apr. 5, Hulsman said. And following a quick check in her ticket box, she said there are still a few more tickets available so people have a chance to take home the quilt made by one of her senior quilting class members.

“People have to hurry to get the tickets, though,” Hulsman said. “When you don’t have that much left, you need to get them fast.”

Proceeds from the quilt will benefit the senior programs, she said.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or


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