For the last 16 years, Orlando Anaya and his team of Taste of Hawaii volunteers have worked the “Ultimate Sunday Brunch” annually from dawn to dusk.
“We’re the commencement gophers: We go for this and we go for that,” said Anaya, president of Mokihana Aquatics and a volunteer coordinator for The Taste of Hawaii. “Whenever they tell us to go for it, we go for it.”
Anaya and his team of 15 from Mokihana Aquatics are among 200 volunteers representing 16 organizations at the 28th annual Taste of Hawaii at Smith’s Tropical Paradise on Sunday.
“We are so grateful for our volunteers because without them we could not do this event,” said Ron Margolis, Taste of Hawaii co-chair.
Anaya’s volunteers started their first two years by setting up and breaking down. Because of their hard work, organizers asked Mokihana Aquatics to work the entire event. And they haven’t missed a beat.
Sunday, Mokihana Aquatics volunteers will work three of the busiest sections.
“We’re going to be doing Slam Alley, the pavilion and the garden,” he said. “We’ll be doing those areas because of our reputation of being the hardest workers at Taste of Hawaii.”
Without the volunteers, Margolis says, there would be no Taste of Hawaii.
“From the hauling of equipment, putting up the tents, providing chefs the cooking and serving equipment to prepare the food, taking care of the chefs, emptying the trash, the volunteers help get it all done,” he said. “Plus, they are there at the end to help clean up the park. You’d kind of have to say, ’What don’t the volunteers do?’”
Participating in its second Taste of Hawaii, Kauai Habitat for Humanity will give two homeowner candidates the opportunity to earn hours in lieu of a traditional down payment on a home.
“We were able to gather 10 volunteers to help: Two homeowner candidates and their friends and family will be assisting on Saturday with tent set up,” said Milani Pimental, Kauai Habitat for Humanity director of development. “Some of our volunteers will also be back Sunday afternoon to help with tear down of the event.”
Kauai RSVP, a volunteer program whose members are 55 years old and older, will help with registration at Vidinha Stadium and at Smith’s Tropical Paradise.
“We’ll have RSVP volunteers checking in (Taste of Hawaii) volunteers and distributing volunteer T-shirts and placing wristbands on them and directing them to their work area,” said Celia Melchor-Questin, RSVP director.
While parking will only be at Vidinha Stadium, Melchor-Questin said volunteers will be stationed at Wailua for customer registration.
“There will be some people who will go directly to Smith’s, so we’ll have volunteers taking tickets, checking IDs, placing wristbands,” she said.
Some of the 30 RSVP volunteers will also help with the silent auction.
“We think the reason for the Taste of Hawaii is to give back to the community,” she said.
“The Rotary Club does such an awesome job in giving money to so many different organizations. They help the whole island,” Ayana said. “If we can help them, we can help Kauai at large.”