“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.”

Ocean shoreline

During the month of January, I started a personal event called gratitude and giving. It is my way to give back to others for the blessings I’ve received. Through this volunteer program came another challenge. In the next series of events and through Hawaiian Islands Land Trust and group leader, Scott Fisher, I completed another goal.

James Crowe works with projects that deal with restoration spending 95% of his time working and living on the land. His dedication is deep-seated and true. In one day, I experienced what he believes to be true. Every Friday your volunteer day begins at eight a.m. along the coastal area in Waihee. This is a four-hour commitment that requires that you dress in proper work gear. Other requirements are, enclosed shoes, snacks, water and plenty of sunscreen. Once the group gathers, we take off in two trucks to our starting point. In the party are the following:

  • Denny with wife Margo who are visitors from Washington state. For Denny, his personal goal is to complete his remaining twenty hours of community service.
  • Ward  is a returning student of Hawaiian studies.
  • Max, a former civil engineer, recently moved to Maui in August.
  • Tom, a local bartender, is a  regular for the Friday group. He grows the native plants used to restore the area on the island.

Sweating the day away

Once we are given our general briefing, we spread out with our team leaders to begin our day. Ward and I work with James who heads to his area, motorized saw in hand. As he cuts away at the snarled, thick hau, our job is to remove the debris that falls. With ear plugs and sunglasses in place, we begin the tedious job of dragging branches and piling them away from the site. The sound of the chainsaw chews through the silence as the sun beams through the new path created in the hau. In retaliation it seems that the tangled branches fault me for doing my job. One limb falls on my head with such force, that it caused me to pause.

During the course of my duties the remaining roots of cut away trees ensnared my feet, tripping me more than once. I begin to wonder if I’m under attack and try to take a different path. After two hours, the noise stops and it’s time for a break. The sun has worn on us as sweat soaks our clothes. The team heads to a shaded area for drinks and snacks.

Volunteers

Giving our best

We return to work and view the progress that has been made thus far. One group replant native species into the soil while Wade and I continue to move branches and stack them higher. The sun is brighter, causing sweat to run into my eyes. After a few more hours and another break, the team is exhausted but happy. The chatter of excitement is about the contribution each has made. Once the job is complete our reward is a drive to the Waihee river mouth. There is a breathtaking view towards the turquoise water as classic white waves crash upon the rocks. The fresh air is like a blown kiss from nature to us for a job well done. We all agree that we assisted the shoreline in replenishing itself and that it was well worth it.

Volunteer vacations are a great way to apply your skills to many areas of interest. For me, working the coastal area rich in Hawaiian culture was just what I needed to complete my time in Maui. For further information about the refuge use this link, http://www.hilt.org/protected-lands/maui/wahihee-refuge/