Punana Leo gets new entry

PUHI — Punana Leo o Kauai got a new Americans with Disabilities Act compliant entrance Saturday — just in time for its May Day program.

“When we found out their May Day program was going to be held next week, we had to push everything up,” said Destry Shibuya, a Boy Scout with Troop 148 sponsored by the Lihue Christian Church. “This was a six-month project, starting with the planning.”

Shibuya spearheaded the project of installing the new entrance as his Eagle project after learning of the need.

“They had a bunch of guys having to lift a grandpa in a wheelchair in order to get in,” Shibuya said. “The previous entrance was concrete, but it was not ADA compliant. It was uneven and had a hole where a big puddle would develop after big rains.”

Older Scouts in the troop and parents helped Shibuya take out the old concrete, level the ground, create the frame and add reinforcing mesh for the new entrance.

Kamaluokalani Almodova, the Punana Leo lead teacher, or kumu alaka‘i, said because Punana Leo is a nonprofit where Hawaiian education is provided to children and their families, these types of community partnerships enable a lot of things to be done.

“Jordan Berg is one of our parents,” Almodova said. “His daughter Hi‘ilei comes to school here, and his son Kamalei is in the same troop as Destry. The Berg ohana recognized the need and connected with Destry.”

The gateway, estimated at more than $2,500, was valuable for more than that.

“We’ve already recycled the old concrete the boys dug up,” Almodova said. “It’s now used to hold some of our container plants and used in the watering areas.”

Berg said the donation by O. Thronas of 2 1/2 yards of concrete was a big help toward making the Eagle project fly.

“They don’t normally operate on Saturday,” Berg said. “But they opened up special to make this delivery. The donation sure saved us a lot of change.”

Almodova said the new entrance will be a tremendous improvement when guests arrive at the Puhi campus for its May Day program.

“These boys and Jordan are special,” she said. “They’re not just building the new entrance. They don’t want guests to get muddy so they’re laying sod in the areas next to the entrance, and even plan on imprinting designs as well as the Punana Leo logo in the entry way.”

Shibuya has been a Scout for seven years.

“Scouting is unique,” the prospective Eagle Scout said. “Scouting is not just to go out camping. We learn about preserving nature, and picking up whatever we bring in as well as what others don’t take out — we leave the place better than what was there.”

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