LIHU‘E — The face of the annual volunteer recognition Friday changed this year because of the global pandemic enveloping the world.
Instead of the luncheon gathering, this year the Kaua‘i Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and the county Agency on Elderly Affairs hosted a volunteer-recognition drive-thru at four sites to acknowledge and thank kupuna volunteers for the work they do throughout the year at the different Kaua‘i RSVP volunteer stations.
“This year should be no different,” said Donna Lynn Loo, the Kaua‘i RSVP director.
“All of you, our volunteers, deserve as much praise and recognition — even more so during these unprecedented times. Though we are not able to meet in our normal setting, may we embrace the love and joy all of you have brought by the service you do in our community. You have unselfishly shared the gift of your time, talent and treasure in ways too numerous to mention,” she said.
The music of Ron Toki and Howard Toki welcomed guests to the drive-thru at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall, where Kaua‘i RSVP, AEA and government dignitaries welcomed guests with gifts of appreciation and aloha.
“The pandemic has thwarted majority of service activities since mid-March, yet our volunteers continue to meet the critical needs of our community in countless ways,” said Mayor Derek Kawakami in a message to the volunteers. “During the last 12 months, 343 members contributed more than 15,100 hours of service.”
Kawakami pointed out examples of the Kaua‘i RSVP volunteerism during the pandemic, when volunteers delivered 177 bags of groceries and supplies to the island’s kupuna during the Keller Williams Red Day of Service in May. Through the Grove Farm Community Wins program, 500 restaurant gift cards were distributed to kupuna and their caregivers, and in collaboration with ‘Aina Ho‘okupu O Kilauea, Na Maka Oanona and local farmers, more than 1,000 boxes of produce were provided to kupuna.
The Kaua‘i RSVP Advisory Council coordinated bags of food and supplies for delivery to 20 houseless students through the state Department of Education, and for its Sept. 11 service project, more than 300 frontline workers at three hospitals were appreciated with bags filled with snacks and goodies.