Kalaheo resident Brad Leach typically can be spotted at Costco or Safeway with two gigantic shopping carts stockpiled with items he doesn’t intend to use.
Three to five days a week, his trips to the grocery store or pharmacy are commonplace for the real estate agent who works for Hawai’i Life.
None of this is his shopping.
Strictly out of benevolence, Leach runs errands for Kaua‘i senior citizens who want to limit their potential exposure to contracting COVID-19.
From purchasing groceries to picking up prescription medications to running to the transfer station or recycling center to help them reduce unnecessary trips, Leach does it all.
Leach was specific about not seeking out any attention doing this, and wasn’t even sure about a nomination for his recognition to be a Hometown Hero, because Leach, originally from O‘ahu and Maui, does this to help others.
Kalina Harding, who has known Leach for several years, has experienced Leach’s kindness, as he offered his assistance to her many times over the years.
Harding nominated Leach for The Garden Island’s weekly spotlight.
“He’s wonderful,” Harding said. “He always takes time to help his family of four, and he cares for and helps everyone out in the community. He has volunteered to help the mentally ill and kids with special needs, has helped get groceries, and helped young kids play athletics and any other children in need.”
Leach, a graduate of the University of Southern California who was briefly a member of the Trojans’ volleyball team during his tenure there, continues to devote his time to helping others, and does so unassumingly.
Leach, a resident of Kaua‘i for only a couple of years, said he is fulfilling one of his dreams by living on this island, and he plans to continue to help others and devote his time utilizing his knowledge as a coach to help teach young people the nuances of the game.
Leach said he tries to exemplify the aloha spirit, which is one of the reasons he initially didn’t want to be interviewed. He wants to help others, and hopes to get more embedded into the community through continuing to volunteer to help children, the elderly and anyone else with specific needs. He also wants to make his way into the Kaua‘i sports world.
He expects nothing in return for his giving, which exemplifies what it means to be a Hometown Hero.
What inspires you to volunteer?
I think it comes from being a Boy Scout. Volunteering is part of being an Eagle Scout. Helping people out is just something that I believe in, and that my parents instilled in me and my sisters at a young age. It is nice to connect with my neighbors. I do it to better the community, and I feel that you can change the world with simple things.
What is your philosophical approach to volunteering?
My belief is simply that one small thing someone can do to help someone else can make a world of difference and make the world a better place. It can cause a dramatic change in someone, and I am very passionate about helping the youths. I think I’ve been lucky to have phenomenal parents, coaches and teachers that have instilled that in me.
What inspired you to help others during this pandemic?
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, people were afraid to leave their house, and the news was confusing. Being young, I felt I could help people with this stuff, and I don’t mind doing it.
Is helping others something that you’ve always done?
Part of what drives me is my faith, and Christianity’s ‘do unto others.’ I think that is what makes Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i a unique place. Here, we do little things. Every day is helping someone else. It just kind of makes you feel better to give than receive, help people out and be part of the community.
How important do you feel it is that we need to help others during this time of crisis?
I think my ability to give comes from people in the community, giving back and helping others, and we help take care of each other.
You focus a lot on others. Tell me a little more about your own background.
I grew up in Kaimuki, and I have three younger sisters. My mom and dad are still together, and grew up with some incredible experiences. My dad ended up getting a job offer in California in a town called Mission Viejo, and I started high school there the next day. I was from Hawai‘i and I never really understood the different areas on the mainland. I would see someone driving a Mercedes Benz, and I remember telling my dad, ‘did we just move to some rich town?’ It was kind of funny.
What are some of your other goals for Kaua‘i?
There is a quote I deeply believe in. I am not sure where it is from, but I deeply believe in it: “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy.” You vote in an election once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about what kind of community you want to live in. Small acts of kindness by millions of people can transform the world. I am passionate about volunteering, and that quote embodies the aloha spirit and one’s choice of the type of neighborhood you live in.
This is why we live in Kaua‘i, because the island has provided for us, and we are so grateful to be living here. It’s the safest place in the world and has the kindest and happiest people in the world.