Life’s Bridges steps in during visitor tragedies

The unexpected passing of Mayor Bryan Baptiste last month stunned our community, and I know the residents of our island join me in extending our hearts and prayers to Annette Baptiste and her four children at this difficult time. Mayor Baptiste had such a deep commitment to Kaua‘i and her people, he will be fondly remembered for years to come.

One of the first people to call me once the news had been made public was Gina Kaulukukui of Life’s Bridges Hawaii Inc. Gina knew that I worked closely with the mayor and his team, and I would be affected by his sudden passing. She asked if there was anything I needed and said she was available if I needed to talk, which I really appreciated at the time.

Gina and I have been working together for more than 10 years, which is good news and bad news. Good news because in a crisis, I want Gina and her team of Life Bridges professionals on my side. They are an amazing group of volunteers who share their enormous hearts full of aloha and compassion to help our residents and visitors in times of need. Bad news because if Gina is calling me, that usually means a visitor has died and she is trying to get help — sometimes in the form of a hotel room for family members flying in, or trying to change flights for those now having to stay longer than expected, or sending the luggage of the person who passed away to family on the Mainland.

It’s a great partnership between Life’s Bridges and the visitor industry at a delicate time. I give my deep appreciation to all our visitor industry partners who always step up when I call with a request for a complimentary room, waived change fees or providing shuttles for those family members who need a ride.

The Bridges Emergency Support Team (BEST), formerly known as the “Beeper Team,” is an invaluable resource to our island. It always amazes me how volunteers for Hospice and Life’s Bridges Hawaii handle some of life’s most challenging moments. I have the utmost respect for those who volunteer to be there for our family and friends at what are often very devastating times.

For more information on the Life’s Bridges Hawaii Inc., please contact Gina Kaulukukui at 651-6637.

• Sue Kanoho is the executive director of the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau. She can be reached at kauai@hvcb.org

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