Rotary’s ‘biggest cheerleader’

LIHUE — Adelbert “Del” Green was nine years old when he would visit his “opa” in Maui and watch him and his friends sit outside drinking Primo beer after a long day of fishing.

His grandpa Komatsu and his friends would gather around the grill eating fresh fish and share the latest news. His uncle would bring a ukulele and sometimes the merry group would even break into song.

His grandpa, who rarely wore a shirt, had a “big opu” and didn’t wear shoes.

“He drank a lot of beer,” Green said with a laugh.

He said the lively group was like family and friends.

That’s what it’s like being part of a rotary club, Green said.

“It’s kind of like ‘Cheers,’” he said. “The sitcom ‘Cheers’ where everybody knows your name, and are always glad you came.”

As the new District Governor for the Rotary International District 5000 Hawaii for the 2015-16 year, Green’s job, which started on July 1, is to encourage folks to join, reach out to the community, and enforce club charity efforts.

“My job is to be the biggest cheerleader,” he said. “And to inspire and motivate.”

The Rotary Club of Honolulu, where Green is a member, is celebrating its centennial year, when the Honolulu Club became the 170th rotary club in the world in 1915. There are now 51 rotary clubs in Hawaii.

Governors are elected by the district clubs three years in advance of taking office, even though the term is just one year long. District governors come in with a new motto.

“The one for this year is, ‘Be a gift to the world,’” he said.

Green just wrapped up a tour Friday of the five rotary clubs on the island of Kauai.

Each rotary club has a signature characteristic that makes them unique and different than other clubs around the island, said Assistant Governor Richard “Dick” Olsen of Rotary Club of Kauai.

Take, for instance, the “Mother Club,” or the Rotary Club of Kauai, which was admitted into the Rotary International in 1937 and was the fourth Rotary Club to be formed in the state of Hawaii, Olsen said.

“Ours is the oldest club on the island,” said Tom Lodico, president of the Rotary Club of Kauai. “With local business people and young professionals.”

Lodico said he appreciated the district governor’s visit Friday because it allows him to connects to communities across the Hawaiian islands.

“The district governor kind of ties us together,” Lodico said. “He tells us about clubs around the state. He fills us in about what he thinks the clubs on the island should focus on.”

Each year, the Rotary Club of Kauai puts on the Lights on Rice Parade and the Old Koloa Sugar Mill Run in the Winter, both staples on the island of Kauai, Lodico said.

Then, there’s the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay with 70 full-time members, one of the larger groups on the island, run by President Mike Dexter-Smith, who is originally from Leicester in the Midlands of England.

He said his club responds to the community.

“We see a need and we put in effort,” Dexter-Smith said.

His club’s motto?

“If not us, then who,” he said. “It’s our responsibility to shine a light on the issues and get things started on the island. Get things moving.”

Green met with Dexter-Smith on Thursday to reinvigorate the club’s community outreach projects, such as some of its biggest campaigns, Adopt a Classroom, and Growing Our Own Teachers, where the club gives scholarships to encourage teachers to stay on the island.

Dexter-Smith agreed with many of Green’s points on community and friendships within the club.

“We’ve come together under a common theme, wanting to assist,” he said. “We’re from different backgrounds. So many people from different walks of life. Wanting to raise money for this community. The spirit of doing it together.”

Other clubs on the island are the Rotary Club of Kapaa, which sponsors the Taste of Hawaii; the Rotary Club of Poipu Beach, who are known for One Fine Evening; and the Rotary Club of West Kauai.

Green, who was born in Oahu, spent some time in a small plantation town on the island of Maui with his grandparents during the summers, he said.

If he could talk to his grandparents, he would tell them that he’s proud of them. They did well with what they had, he said.

“They were very helpful in giving me the values that I have today.”

He said as a kid, he didn’t know many people who had gone to college. But now, it’s his job to encourage, inspire and motivate people to come together to provide those types opportunities to others, he said.

“It’s an opportunity to give back,” he said.” It’s about helping the next generation and being a positive role model. Letting them know they can achieve things, too.”

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