HANALEI — The Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay is aiming to make a difference in the community — now with a new president.
On July 1, Monica Oszust volunteered for one year as president of the charitable organization to initiate and develop programs that benefit communities, including education and youth activities, special services for elderly, aid to handicapped, healthcare projects, civic activities and environmental projects.
“Monica has been in Rotary for seven years,” said her husband, John Oszust, outgoing president of the club. “She is an experienced businesswoman, full of energy, and a genuine humanitarian.”
She has owned and operated hair salons in Chicago, the Virgin Islands, Colorado and Vancouver, British Columbia and has always had a penchant for giving and sharing, John Oszust said. She has championed the Rotary’s Greatest Garage Sale, held every year at the Kilauea Storage Area, and the Clothing Swap to raise funds for community programs.
Over 93 percent of all Rotary International donations and funding goes to the end result, recipient or project. Administration costs stay low for clubs due to dedicated volunteers.
Rotary International focuses on promoting peace, health and welfare, supporting education, growing local economies, fighting disease, and providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene. With 1.2 million members worldwide, the organization works collaboratively with global projects and individually at local levels to help make lives better.
This year, the Hanalei Bay club sent members to build a school in Nepal, with sister Rotary Club of Kyoto Rakuhoku, and teach children in Myanmar and Taiwan, in collaboration with other clubs from Hawaii. Members hosted an exchange student from Spain, sponsored a Kauai exchange student in Venezuela, and installed water purification equipment in Mexico. They are currently in negotiations with a Bolivia club to rebuild a dilapidated school at an orphanage in Cochabanba.
“We perform sanitation and water projects in many areas, provide wheelchairs for physically disabled persons, perform cleft palate surgery, and build schools and hospitals,” said John Oszust. “Our largest and most significant project is a $2.4 billion inoculation program to eliminate the polio virus.”
At a local level, the club has developed rescue tubes at beaches and expanded the program to the Mainland and other Hawaiian Islands. It developed the food pantry at Kilauea and raised funds to build a lifeguard equipment storage building on Weke Road in Hanalei, restore the Hanalei Pier, and landscape the courtyard for Mahelona Hospital in-patients.
The club also provides scholarships to Kauai Community College and developed the GOOT (Growing Our Own Teachers) program, in addition to Aloha Angels for Adopt-a-Classroom and Adopt-a-Teacher.
“Our goals this year are based on the safety and health for the whole island,” said Monica Oszust. “With the rescue tubes, AEDs and helping to build the Kilauea Agricultural Center Farmers Market, our goals are keeping us busy.”
Current island projects include raising funds for the Aina Hookupu o Kilauea pavilion and working with Puukumu School to develop a program that teaches young members of the community to get involved with volunteer and social work.
Chartered in 1994, the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay holds meetings at noon on Thursdays at St. Regis Princeville Resort to discuss programs and host guest speakers.
“We are always looking for new ideas,” said Monica Oszust, “and people who love to give their time and energy to the community.”
There are five Rotary clubs on Kauai, all of which are dedicated to serving humanity and making a difference.