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West // West Oahu Coverstory
Christina O’Connor

Kapolei Rotarians Share Dictionaries

Rotary Club of Kapolei members pictured at a recent meeting are (from left) Scott Yoder, club president Arlene Estrella, Dennis Hern, Paula Bailey, Joel Johnson, Larry Howard, Malia Schwartz, Cory Chafe, LaJoy Lindsey-Hanohano, Paul Klitzke, community service chairwoman Catherine Sichenzia, president-elect Dick May, treasurer Barbara Lum Lee, secretary Natasha Clarin and Ernest Trueblood. Photo by Dan Fullenwider.

The Rotary Club of Kapolei’s annual Dictionary Project currently is under way, and 10 elementary schools in Kapolei, Ewa Beach and Nanakuli soon will have brand new volumes to distribute to their third-grade classrooms and to the eager young consumers.

“Our goal is to get a dictionary into every kid’s hands,” explained Rotarian Catherine Sichenzia, the club’s community service chairwoman who is heading up this year’s project. “It is as simple as that.”

Those benefiting this time are Barbers Point Elementary, Ewa Beach Elementary, Ewa Elementary, Holomua Elementary, Kapolei Elementary, Keoneula Elementary, Makakilo Elementary, Mauka Lani Elementary, Kaimiloa Elementary and Nanaikapono Elementary schools.

The project is a tradition for the club, which currently has about 20 members who participate in a range of community service projects. Promoting literacy has become a pet project of the club in past years. In addition to the Dictionary Project, other literacy efforts include a Read to Me program, in which Rotarians read aloud to local second- and third-grade classrooms.

“This is one of the things that we feel really strongly about,” Sichenzia said.

Sichenzia, a Kapolei resident, joined Rotary a few years ago, becoming an official member only last year.

She has been working on the Dictionary Project for the past three years, and was excited to take the helm this time around. Her own son received a dictionary as a part of the project when he was a third-grader.

“It was so cool because he had ownership of a dictionary,” she said. “He came home and he was like, ‘Mom, look! I have a dictionary!’”

The dictionaries are funded entirely by generous donations from the Rotarians themselves. Each club member chooses a school with which he or she wants to partner and sets a budget for how many dictionaries they can purchase.

“The Rotarians donate tremendously for this project. This is nothing that we have to ask for. Once the drive comes around, you just get checks handed to you,” Sichenzia said.

This year, the project will benefit more than 1,000 third-graders.

When the books arrive, club members will personally deliver them to the schools, many of which arrange for assemblies each year to present the students with their new dictionaries.

“Kids at school are so happy to receive something,” she said. “We have some kids in our neighborhood who may never own a book. That is a special moment to watch when these kids have that ownership.

“Rotary is so enthusiastic about this project,” Sichenzia added. “It is about taking care of the kids in Kapolei and promoting lifelong learning.”

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