Grassroots efforts provide hope on many frontsPosted on Sep 27, 2021 in Capitol Connection, Featured, Main
People helping people. If the pandemic has left you wondering whether we still care about each other, take heart. These projects show there’s still plenty of aloha in the islands and people willing to go the extra mile for others. First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige has been actively involved in three efforts — Kaukau 4 Keiki, the Alzheimer’s Association of Hawai‘i and community vaccination clinics — that have been helping people as we battle COVID-19.
Kaukau 4 Keiki reported impressive results from its summer program to make sure families had the nourishment they needed. Government, private and community partners provided more than 700,000 meals through weekly boxes of groceries for children in rural areas statewide. “Because of KauKau 4 Keiki, our family was able to go to bed well-nourished and not hungry,” said one parent. The program also supported Hawai‘i farmers by purchasing 469,325 pounds of local produce and investing $1.5 million back into the state’s economy. “I think it really fulfilled a need in the community and highlighted the issue of food insecurity,” said Mrs. Ige. She credits coordinators Dexter Kishida and Sharlene Wong for bringing all the partners together, with reimbursement coming from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The hope is to repeat the program next year. For details, go to https://www.kaukau4keiki.org/.
Mrs. Ige is also honorary chair of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, an event on different islands that encourages people to walk in their neighborhoods rather than in large crowds because of the pandemic. She understands the challenges of the disease because her mother, who is 96, suffers from it. “The number of people affected by the disease is quite staggering, especially if you include the thousands of people who are caregivers,” Mrs. Ige explained. “According to the 2014 Facts and Figures report from the Association, women in their 60s are about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as they are to develop breast cancer, and that two-thirds of Alzheimer’s cases are women.” To find a “Walk Day” near you in October and November, go to https://www.alz.org/hawaii.
Finally, Mrs. Ige has been visiting COVID-19 vaccination and testing pop-up clinics, like the ones last month at Palama Settlement and Nanakuli Village Center. Palama Settlement board member Cedric Yamanaka of Queen’s Medical Center arranged for that mobile clinic. Patty Kahanamoku-Teruya, chair of the Nānākuli -Māʻili Neighborhood Board, coordinated the Nānākuli event with area legislators, Hawai‘i Pacific Health, and other community organizations. More pop-up clinics are being planned in the coming months, where vaccination rates have been low. “We wanted to be part of the solution,” said Kahanamoku-Teruya, whose whole family is vaccinated. “Our message is ‘Mālama Our ‘Ohana. It’s Our Kuleana.’ Too many people are listening to bad infor-mation on social media. This is our community taking charge of our future.”