Turning ‘The Corner’

Change happens. Because we are creatures of habit, even when we initiate it, there is always a little time of adjustment as we humans and the universe seek to fill the spot left vacant.

I had such a day on Monday. I was hired by Hale ‘Opio Kaua’i, Inc. to write the Corner, and on Monday, I left the organization which I believe is worthy, and includes several friends of mine.

So here’s the story.

I arrived on Kauai in 2003, after being a mediator for five years for the court and community of Asheville, N.C. I began volunteering here for Kauai Economic Opportunity soon after. There were several per diem judges who served the fifth circuit that I got to know through mediating. One day I saw the Honorable Frank Rothchild’s picture in the paper as a Teen Court judge, and Hale ‘Opio was the organization that ran Teen Court.

I volunteered and even subbed for the program manager. In 2004, she and her husband moved away, and I became the Teen Court Manager. I realized that kids were being detained for breaking laws that they didn’t know about. At that time I would pick up the new cases of first time offending youth from KPD. I was given a book of the Hawaii State Statutes by Gary Sakai, to help me understand the laws better myself. The per diem judges volunteered to be the judges at Teen Court: Max Graham, Walton Hong, Frank Rothchild, and Joseph Kobayashi. They were joined by then juvenile public defender Edmund Acoba, and Legal Aid director Greg Meyers,

Prosecuting Attorney Craig DeCosta, Police Chief Lum, Hawaii Attorney General representative Russell Goo, Superintendent of Schools Daniel Hamada and David Lam the Administrator of Juvenile Client and Family Services for the Fifth Circuit Court were always kind and helpful.

I asked them if they’d want to be part of a project to help educate kids about the laws and be my resources if I had a question I couldn’t handle for a Q and A column I wanted to start. Chris Cook, then editor of The Garden Island newspaper, couldn’t have been more helpful or enthusiastic about the idea.

So “In Your Corner” was born, and served the island until another changing year for me. My daughter died in 2007, and I had a tumor in my ear canal, as well as a wonky eye developing I was told from stress. I resigned and the Corner sat empty, except for a few articles that HOK resubmitted.

Five years ago I was hired again by HOK to pretty much just write “In Your Corner,” as there are a lot of organizations I support with my time, and I have a part-time job. Recently, a new administration has taken over, and more requests were made on me as an employee that just weren’t going to work. So I respectfully resigned.

I asked Bill Buley, the TGI editor if I could write my story for today and say goodbye to the most wonderful loving supporting readership a person could have. It has been my honor and privilege to write articles that were always meant to help the readership become happier, wiser, more peaceful, respectful and proactive for themselves, and to give community resources for helping folks in all areas from sex education and birth control to how to resolve conflicts, to suicide prevention support.

Recently in these more turbulent times, I’ve focused on looking for common ground in people we might be uncomfortable with because of their appearances, ethnicities or religions persuasions. It’s exhausting to judge others, and there is so much the same that we can agree on!

In the end when we pass over, I don’t think it will matter if we are Democrats, Republicans, Jews, Christians, or Muslims, etc. It will matter if we’ve loved ourselves, others, and our Creator, no matter what we call Him. Love is the part of us that is the same in everyone. It’s not the romantic love, but the deep soul love that souls feel in others.

Thank you to the original foundation stones of the Corner back in the day, and to all the people who have been supportive recently, most notably Superintendent of Schools Bill Arakaki, and KEO Mediation Program Director Jessie Basquez. I also want to thank Laverne Bishop immediate past CEO of HOK, and Bill Buley, TGI editor, who believed that this column made a difference on Kauai. I prayed about this column, and did my best to serve well.

Some years ago I created a bumper sticker that says, “Love Succeeds.” It pretty much sums up what I believe. The task is remembering it when the world seems to say otherwise, but I have found out personally that Love never fails when I remember to look for it. Please feel free to create your own bumper stickers with that for your fundraisers, or just to help remind folks.

Blessings to you all. Kauai lives aloha for the most part. It’s our gift to show the world that it can be done. See you around the island! And I can use my own email address for your replies if you like! annaleah@hawaii.rr.com

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