Kapaa Rotary shows community it cares

KAPAA — Ron Margolis, past president of the Rotary Club of Kapaa, wanted to know how many Rotarians are needed to present a check Wednesday at Mariachi’s restaurant.

The answer is more than one, as Margolis led the presentation of nearly $36,000 to four organizations during the club’s meeting.

Beneficiary organizations included Aloha Angels getting an award of $10,000 for its adopt-a-teacher program; $10,000 to Junior Achievement for expanding its financial-literacy program into more schools on Kauai; $5,000 to the Kauai Lifeguard Association for the roving lifeguard patrols; and $9,700 to the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital Psychiatric Unit for special beds and mattresses.

“The Mahelona Hospital Psychiatric Unit is the only one we have on this island,” said Dr. Monty Downs, KLA president and an emergency-room physician at the Wilcox Medical Center. “It is an incredible resource.”

Barbara Nakamura, a Mahelona Hospital nurse and the head of the psychiatric unit, said the funds will pay for five special beds and mattresses required for the unit.

Chris Young of the Junior Achievement financial-literacy program also serves as the president of the RotaryClub of Poipu Beach.

“All of this wouldn’t be happening without the leadership of the Rotary Club of Kapaa,” Young said. “Junior Achievement is a financial-literacy, entrepreneural, and career-readiness program for students. It is a bite-sized way for the community to step in and help students.”

Young said Junior Achievement is scheduling its own fundraiser, June 24, featuring 10 of the 11 brewmasters on the island, and an additional five or six from the Mainland.

Ric Cox of Aloha Angels, also affiliated with the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay, said the program started in 2013 with the aid of a $104,000 contribution from the Rotary Club of Kapaa.

“This year’s contribution of $10,000 covers the adopt-a-teacher program for teachers at the Kapaa Elementary School,” Cox said. “Since Aloha Angels started, more than $569,000 has been raised.”

Downs said he met a family whose father would have been dead had not the son seen the ocean-safety video at the Lihue Airport baggage claim area that was paid for through the Rotary Club of Kapaa.

“Last week, we had a drowning at Larsen’s Beach,” Downs said. “That is one of 65 beaches on Kauai that is supposed to be covered by 10 lifeguard towers. Ideally, we would like to have 65 towers, but after talking with the mayor, council and the fire chief, even the addition of one tower (estimated cost: $400,000 a year) is impossible.”

Downs said an alternative was the roving-patrol system. Kauai will start with three patrols as early as December 1, Downs said.

Funds for these community programs come from the various Rotary Club of Kapaa events, including its signature Taste of Hawaii in June.

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