Bad weather doesn’t hamper good works

Bad weather didn’t stop hundreds of people from braving heavy rains Sunday to support good causes.

“This is the year you get here by canoe,” joked Vanna Morningstar, first vice president of the East Kaua‘i Lions Club, as she manned the syrup table at the club’s annual pancake breakfast to raise funds for the nonprofit’s year-round services.

People shook rain off their umbrellas and waded through flooded parking lots to support the club by purchasing a $7 breakfast at an elementary school cafeteria in Lihu‘e.

“We’re just so proud they would come out in this type of weather,” Morningstar said. East Kaua‘i Lions Club member Stephen Fujii said 1,383 breakfasts were served.

Among dozens of volunteers on hand to cook and serve were several members of the Tropic Care Kaua‘i military active duty troops and reservists on the island to provide free health care to island residents until Friday.

Navy Capt. Jeff Garcia of Lemoore, Calif., said he’s a Lion’s Club member back home, and wanted to show his support before reporting for duty at one of three clinics on the island offering free care to any islander as part of a military training exercise.

An optometrist, Garcia said he and his fellow eye doctors are treating and fitting glasses for more than 500 people per day since the 400-member team began offering free health care to islanders on Feb. 28.

“It’s nice to be in  our own back yard and help our citizens, especially when it’s economically a hard time,” Garcia said.

Tropic Care Kaua‘i has provided an estimated $1 million worth of  health care services so far, including physical examinations, vision exams, prescription glasses and basic dental care.

Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Maureen Reitz of Pittsburgh and her colleagues stood in uniform next to Kaua‘i volunteers in Lions Club T-shirts to help serve breakfast.

Reitz said she volunteered after learning about the event from a Lion’s Club volunteer at a Tropic Care Kaua‘i clinic who was helping clinic patients fill out forms and direct traffic.

“It’s been wonderful. Everyone has been so nice,”  Reitz said. “We wanted to give a little back.”

Reitz said island residents have been lining up at each of the clinics, especially for optometry and dentistry services.

“There’s been a big need. I feel like we’ve really helped a lot,” she said.

The clinics at Kaua‘i Community College, All Saints Episcopal Church in Kapa‘a and at the Hanapepe Soto Zen Temple Zenshuji will be open from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. through Thursday (except

for a 3:30 p.m. closing on Tuesday) and close at noon Friday.

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