Volunteers help at soup kitchen

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kauai County Councilmember Arthur Brun gets a pair of hot lunches for distribution Tuesday as part of the Senior Corps Week celebration at The Salvation Army Kokua Soup Kitchen in Lihue.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Donna Olivas-Kaohi, the Kauai Retired Senior Volunteer Program director, gets a pair of lunches for distribution as Kauai County Councilmember Arthur Brun comes in to pick up more lunches Tuesday at The Salvation Army Kokua Soup Kitchen in Lihue.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kauai Council Chair Mel Rapozo works with Shirley Akita of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program Advisory Board to finish a lunch plate Tuesday at The Salvation Army Kokua Soup Kitchen in Lihue.

LIHUE — Kauai Council Chair Mel Rapozo wanted to know how much more Tuesday as he dipped his gloved hand into the giant bowl of salad to finish the lunch plate with Shirley Akita, Retired Senior Volunteer Program Advisory Board member, at The Salvation Army Kokua Soup kitchen.

“I dunno,” said Kauai County Councilmember Arthur Brun as he returned for more plates to distribute. “A lot.”

The process of creating lunch plates was interrupted as Rapozo poured in more vegetables and dressing midway through the serving chain that included Councilmember Mason Chock wanting another pair of tongs, Kauai Executive on Aging Kealoha Takahashi, Kauai RSVP director Donna Olivas-Kaohi as well as Kauai RSVP volunteers Tere and Robert Inouye, and Kay Matsuwaki.

The Salvation Army Lieutenant Bill Simon heads the Kokua Soup Kitchen at the Lihue Corps where between 60 to 100 hot meals are served at lunchtime twice a week. This is made possible through the efforts of community volunteers who come out to prepare the food and serve up the lunches.

“We invited out elected officials to celebrate Senior Corps week, April 29 through May 5, by lending a helping hand and experience firsthand, the service Kauai RSVP volunteers provide here in our community,” Olivas-Kaohi said. “A few council members came later, and mingled with those who came to partake in the lunch. It was great to see our RSVP volunteers deftly prepare the meals and so efficiently and quickly hand them off through the pass-through window to get them out to those eagerly awaiting their hot meal. Many of those who got meals expressed their thanks as they were handed the plates.”

Senior Corps Week celebrates the committed individuals who volunteer their time and energy to help others. Their stories of service demonstrate the positive impact a person can create and the change one person can make for another.

Senior Corps volunteers work in many different ways to make communities stronger — Foster Grandparents around the nation mentor and tutor students; Senior Companions help frail, elderly remain in their own homes, and RSVP programs are mobilizing volunteers to make an impact on issues including independent living, caregiver support, environmental stewardship, veterans and military families, disaster services, and food service similar to that being performed at The Salvation Army Kokua Soup Kitchen.

Olivas-Kaohi said on Kauai in 2017, 321 RSVP volunteers actively served at 34 stations island-wide for a total of 27,415 hours.

“Kauai is definitely a special place,” Olivas-Kaohi said. “People definitely share the aloha spirit as we’ve seen through our volunteers, and especially now through the outpouring of support from the community in recovering from the floods. Robert F. Kennedy said, ‘The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.’ We are blessed to live on an island where it is so evident that volunteers do just that.”

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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