Earlier this month, a group of people stopped by Hawaii Foodbank with donations they had collected. The collection drive only lasted a few hours, but they gathered an impressive 985 pounds of rice and $289. These individuals were with the Rotary Club of Kapolei, and the rice and money had been collected as part of the statewide Rotary Rice Rally.
“People were very generous,” says LaJoy Lindsey-Hanohano, Rotary Club of Kapolei’s director of community service, who worked at the rally. “(Food bank donations) are something that can always be used and do a lot of good.”
Hanohano has been volunteering with various groups since her kids were in grade school – they’re now in their teens and 20s – as a way to take part in their school activities. When she retired from her career with the federal government, she decided to ramp up her volunteerism and dropped in for a Rotary meeting.
“I felt like I had found a home,” Hanohano says of her first meeting. “I just felt very comfortable there, and when I heard the things they did for the community – and even internationally – it just piqued my interest.”
Rotary is an international service organization whose worldwide efforts include supplying polio vaccinations, combatting hunger, conducting clean water initiatives and providing education and job training. On Oahu, there are more than 20 Rotary clubs. The Rotary Club of Kapolei organizes a range of service activities that include serving Thanksgiving meals to homeless veterans, repainting bus stops, reading to Makakilo Elementary kindergartners and conducting school supply drives for 12 area schools.
One of Hanohano’s most memorable experiences with the club is participating in the annual dictionary drive. Club members collected dictionaries for third-grade classes, and Hanohano had the opportunity to distribute them to the students. “You wouldn’t think that kids in third grade would be excited over a dictionary,” Hanohano says. “But they were so excited! And that felt good to have a positive impact.”
The club also raises thousands of dollars annually for aspiring college students, and last year it introduced a new scholarship for students to pursue a trade. “Not everybody wants to do the four-year college thing, so we took that into consideration for those who want to do a trade,” she says.
For Hanohano, it’s a simple desire to help her neighbors that keeps her going. “I want to reach out and make a difference. I want to do something positive … and do any little thing that we can to help support the people in our community.”
The Rotary Club of Kapolei always is looking for new members, and anyone is welcome at its Thursday morning meetings at 7:30 in the Kapolei High School faculty lounge. For more information, visit kapoleirotary.com.