A red beret angel drives a purple Thunderbird

KEKAHA — An Angel was born yesterday.

Not just an Angel, but one bent on trying to do something about the drug problem on the island.

Glenn Kapahu, a resident of upper Waimea Valley, is a student at the Kaua‘i Community College and was named the Kaua‘i contact for the Guardian Angels program which announced the charter for the Kaua‘i Chapter.

“I’m just the messenger for Him,” Kapahu said. “We all have the same mission of eradicating this drug before it gets to the kids.”

Kapahu, accompanied by numerous community supporters as well as four members of the Guardian Angels from O‘ahu, converged at the Kekaha School for a special assembly to discuss drug-related issues.

“You don’t need to smoke to get hooked,” one well-known community figure said. “It’s now in candy.”

The former drug dealer whose territory spanned from Kekaha to Kilauea, produced a Web flier from WFAA-TV that said flavored meth is being aimed at first-time users.

Dated May 7, the flier states that McNeil Elementary School in Texas sent notes to parents warning them about the drug called “Strawberry Quick” that is candy, and according to one student, even in cheese.

“When you come to see me in the hospital, it’s already a matter of life and death,” said a respiratory therapist from the Kaua‘i Veterans Memorial Hospital who joined Kapahu and his group of supporters. “You heard Brudda Kane Turalde talk about God. When you come to see me, you’re already getting closer to Him.”

The therapist told the students, he has seen first-hand how parents who are on drugs hurt their children.

“If you do drugs, you will land in the hospital,” he said. “When that happens, it’s a matter of life and death.”

One after another, speakers spoke of how drugs tore down their families and themselves.

“I’ve been shot at, and I survived,” the former drug dealer said. “I lost my family. I lost everything. But I survived.”

He encouraged the children to talk to their counselors when they have problems, and if they’re not going to church, to go to church.

Another former drug user said, “When I was high, I didn’t even care about my children. It was only when I was in jail that I was saved. I had time to sit and think. Now that I’m back out, I can see how drugs affect children.”

The shock value of the message was apparent as students sat quietly through the presentations that included warnings from O‘ahu Guardian Angels Ricardo “Chico” Garcia and Don Fridinger.

Fridinger, an Angel for three years, said one of his goals was to be able to talk to school students.

“I’ve been there,” he said, of his record with drug abuse. “I know. There are lots of opportunities for you out there. You can surf, you can paddle. Those are all free, and it helps keep you drug-free.”

Fridinger told the students there are two types of people in the world — Dream Makers and Dream Breakers, the latter being those who want to keep you down.

“People care about you,” Fridinger told the students. “When I look out, I see you as my kids. If you’re in trouble, just look for the red berets (symbol of the Guardian Angels) because you are ‘my kids,’ and we’ll do whatever it takes to make your trouble go away.”

The establishment of the Kaua‘i Chapter of the Guardian Angels is just one facet of Kapahu’s vision to end the drug problem on the island.

Another facet of his fight against ice was the unveiling of his “End Ice” car, a 1991 Thunderbird that he says “comes with an attitude” because you need that to fight the ice problem.

To this end, Kapahu formed In Dis Life, a multi-faceted program geared towards the fight to keep people away from ice as well as try to help people who have been affected by ice.

One of Kapahu’s long-term visions is the establishment of a one-year treatment and rehabilitation self-sufficient residential ranch facility.

Kapahu, in his personal rehabilitation from drugs, said he started going to school at KCC “to pursue the knowledge and education I need to achieve my goal of ending the ice epidemic problem here.”

Garcia said the O‘ahu chapter of the Guardian Angels has about 20 active members which was formed after two or three years of petitioning the Alliance of Guardian Angels, an international organization.

Maui now has a chapter, Garcia, one of the original leaders of the O‘ahu chapter said.

“Looks like Kaua‘i is going to boom,” Garcia said.

For more information on In Dis Life, call Kapahu at 338-1434, or 634-2101.

Kapahu is the president of the Board of Directors for In Dis Life. Turalde is the vice president, Tanya Quioho is the secretary, Kahu Wayne Vidinha is the treasurer. Board members include Pupu Masuda, Billy Kaneholani and Thomas Nizo.

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


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