Volunteers make the difference at Lydgate Park

WAILUA — Stacy Ricciardi wants Lydgate Park and the Kamalani Playground to be around for a long time.

“I lead a class in outdoor exercise here,” said Ricciardi of Stacy’s Boot Camp. “We’ve been doing this for several years and we want to keep this place for years more. I’ve been coming to help every year from the time we started doing our classes and I even brought several of our Stacy’s Boot Camp members here to help.”

More than a hundred volunteers poured out of bed early Saturday to work at the Make A Difference work day coordinated by Tommy Noyes of the Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park.

Songie Sanjurjo of Wailua said she moved here about a year ago and the coordinated work day is a beautiful effort because she is a park user.

Jeri Lynne Stewart, public information officer for the Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park, said the group is “excited to set aside a special day in the fall to not only help keep Lydgate Park beautiful and free of waste, but to also gather the cream-of-the-crop volunteers to get the job done.”

Lauren “Meow Cat” Lagana was one of 22 volunteers from the Kapaa High School peer mediation class who came to keep the park clean.

“It is important that we keep the community clean,” said Lagana, assigned to help with deliveries and apply linseed oil to the Kamalani Playground structure. “I want to do something helpful which will keep the community clean.”

In addition to the cleaning and maintenance of the Kamalani Playground structure, other volunteers worked on cleaning the beach area near the Morgan Ponds swimming area. Those workers were headed by longtime volunteer and caretaker John Lydgate, whose grandfather is the namesake of the popular community recreational area.

There also was a tree inventory being taken.

“Originally, I was scheduled to help with the heiau cleaning and I brought my tools to help with that,” said Pat Griffith of the Lihue Business Association. “Now, they have me surveying and doing tree inventory in the park.”

Tommy Noyes, the overall coordinator for the massive work day, said the tree survey and inventory is part of the process of developing an urban forestry management plan.

“The first step is systematically inventorying the existing individual trees in the park,” Noyes said in a Friends release. “We will use that inventory to schedule planting suitable young trees which will grow and eventually replace the aging trees.”

Other volunteers scoured the park, doing a general litter pickup and removal of plant debris.

“This is the first time the Kapaa High School peer mediation group is doing this,” said Keith Kitamura, the group’s instructor. “I’m on one of Tommy Noyes’ email lists and when we got the flier, the kids decided they wanted to do this as a service project.”

Keiry Banasihan jumped at the opportunity.

“We’re doing this to help make a difference in the community,” Banasihan said. “Personally, I want to be part of making a difference in the world — of putting others before myself.”

Other groups which turn out regularly for Lydgate Park work days included the East Kauai Y’s Men’s Club, the Rotary Club of Kapaa and the American Association of University Women, Kauai Chapter.

“It’s all Jane Asher’s fault,” said Cherie Mooy, one of the AAUW members working on creating fruit kabobs for the healthy lunch. “Jane Asher started the AAUW, Kauai Chapter.”

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