LIHU‘E — Uniting people through service is one of the themes of the 9/11 Day of Service.
Sean Doi, state Department of Education district educational specialist, said that, personally, it was an honor to be part of this year’s project that brings smiles to kupuna, especially during these uncertain times.
Doi headed up the DOE’s effort that involved students from nine participating schools creating note cards and greetings for kupuna residing in kupuna-care facilities, including the Regency at Puakea, the Garden Isle Rehabilitation &Healthcare, Hale Kupuna Heritage Home, Kaua‘i Care Center, Kaua‘i Veterans Memorial Hospital and Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital.
“A lot of the students have grandparents who live in these care centers,” Doi said. “Others who don’t have anyone living there know others who do. There was a lot of enthusiasm among the student creators. They wanted to do this.”
The resulting cards were put together in baskets presented to the facilities’ representatives for distribution to their residents as a part of the 9/11 Day of Service project led by the Kaua‘i Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, which partnered with the County of Kaua‘i, county Agency on Elderly Affairs and Kaua‘i DOE.
“We would like to recognize the extraordinary efforts of our long-term-care facilities and staff through this pandemic period,” said Mayor Derek Kawakami via a proclamation that accompanied each basket.
“Sacrificing your time and personal safety for the care of our community’s kupuna is one of the greatest acts of kindness and aloha. We recognize your perseverance, resiliency, compassion and patience for our residents. You have honored those we have lost on Sept. 11, 2001 through your selflessness and love shown in the face of this pandemic.”
The Sept. 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance effort was supported and led by AmeriCoprs — Kaua‘i RSVP is a SeniorCorps program — across the county before being recognized in April 2009.
“Here we are today in a spirit of resilience and unity,” said Donna Loo, Kaua‘i RSVP director. “Our Kaua‘i RSVP Advisory Council and the 9/11 Committee members, Wilma Chandler, Bill Arakaki and Gerald Ako, spearheaded this effort in collaboration with Paul Zina and Sean Doi of the Department of Education.”
Previous Day of Service projects honored veterans and the military, first responders and hospital and emergency-room staff.
“Though no other tragic event can ever compare to that of Sept. 11, COVID-19 has brought upon us challenges never experienced in our lifetime,” Loo said.
“These experiences reminded them how they wanted to be with their families but could not travel. It was a time of reflection of our family, friends and loved ones, especially our kupuna and residents in long-term-care facilities as well as the staff who care for them. In an effort of unity, this was an opportune time to involve our keiki who were not yet born on this tragic day 20 years ago, but who could be the vessel to send messages of hope and love to our kupuna and the staff who care for them, to share our spirit of aloha and let them know they are not forgotten.”
AmeriCorps Acting CEO Mal Coles released his message through Loo’s address.
“On Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 lost their lives and another 6,000 were injured on a defining day for a generation of Americans,” Coles said.
“This was one of our country’s darkest moments, and we will never forget the sacrifices made that day. I also remember, clearly, how we as a nation came together afterward to help one another and rise from this tragedy.”
“The Sept. 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance that was spearheaded by the families of the 9/11 victims to honor their loved ones allows us to turn a day of tragedy into a day of action,” Coles said. “In the midst of a pandemic, we need that spirit more than ever. If there was ever a time our country needed to show resilience and unity, it is now.”
Kawakami closed the presentation by asking each of the participants to recite on tape, “we will never forget!”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.