Volunteers spruce up downtown areas

  • YWAM volunteers clean up the county parking lot on Kuakini Highway Saturday morning. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • YWAM volunteer Renee Yun stacks bags of green waste Saturday at the county parking lot on Kuakini Hwy. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • YWAM volunteers Elijah Leonard and Amanda Hellerich bag green waste Saturday at the county parking lot on Kuakini Hwy. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • YWAM volunteer Olivia Chrastina rakes an area cleared of weeds Saturday at the county parking lot on Kuakini Hwy. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • YWAM volunteers clean the brochure rack on Alii Drive Saturday morning. Photo courtesy Kehau Gomes

The county parking lot on Kuakini Highway has been spruced up thanks to a group of volunteers.

Partnering with the Kailua Village Business Improvement District, 25 members of the Youth With A Mission Kokua team started Saturday morning cleaning up the southeast end of the lot, removing rubbish, weeding and raking the overgrown area.


Nohemy Pulido, YWAM group leader, said the team of young adults from University of the Nations volunteer for service projects because they believe in loving the community.

“Community service hours help the community and we get to know people in the community,” said Pulido. “We want to make an impact while we are here.”

And the impact showed after only an hour of work. Large trash bags were filled with greenwaste and trash awaiting pickup by the county. Overgrown, weeded areas were cleared and the long-neglected area was looking revitalized.

Other members of the Kokua Team were on Alii Drive and Kuakini Highway picking up trash along the roadways and cleaning brochure racks. YWAM members have also been cleaning up Kailua Pier on a regular basis.

“This has been a big impact for us. The community has been very receptive to us,” said Pulido.

Kehau Gomes, treasurer of the business improvement district, was there with her crew working with the volunteers. The organization has been focusing efforts to help with the homeless situation in Kailua Village. They tackled cleaning up the north end of the lot, pruning trees that have been a gathering place for some undesirable individuals and planting bougainvilleas in the weeded planter box.

“We have been talking with businesses about who we are and what we are doing,” said Gomes. “We developed and distributed a brochure about how to deal with street people.”

The brochure offers suggestions including not giving money to panhandlers, calling the police when observing illegal activity and private property rights.

Gomes said the Block by Block security team, contracted by KVBID, has undergone training in dealing with panhandlers and individuals with mental illness.

She said the situation is complex, and it takes the effort of the whole community to address it.

“It’s like an onion … peeling away one layer at a time,” said Gomes.


Saturday’s effort took off that top layer.

“To love God is to love the community,” said Pulido.

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