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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 18, 2004

Cleanup builds 'Ewa Beach 'ohana

By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Staff Writer

'EWA BEACH — The way Kymberly Pine sees it, there's a direct connection between the drug problems sweeping through this community and all the trash on its beach.

Kymberly Pine, left, picks up trash at a One'ula Beach Park cleanup. Lani Kauhaahaa-Hunt, 10, right, was one of about 250 other volunteers.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

"You disrespect the body, you disrespect the land. It's all part of the same new dumping culture," said Pine, who helped bring together several hundred volunteers yesterday morning for a cleanup program at One'ula Beach Park.

Volunteers said it probably wasn't the largest event of its kind and it didn't round up the biggest piles of opala like some before it, but it was unlike anything else in at least one respect: the way it pulled together so many different elements of the 'Ewa Beach community behind one idea.

"You've got the old, established 'Ewa Beach, the new super rich community and the 'ghetto' guys down the end, and this is the first time I remember them all working together on one project," said Uncle Billy Kumia, a lifelong 'Ewa Beach resident who helped send the volunteers on their way with an inspirational talk.

There were Cub Scouts, surfers, high schoolers, parents. There were those who lived here all their lives. And there were people who had just moved into the still-growing Ocean Pointe housing development on the edge of town.

"This is the real, old-time meaning of 'ohana, people sharing work to take care of one another," Kumia said.

Ten-year-old Alohalani Kauhaahaa Hunt, a foster child who got involved through the Boys and Girls Club of Hawai'i, said it felt good to be out on a Saturday morning helping others.

"If I saw the people who throw all this stuff on the beach, I'd get in their face a little and tell them it's everybody's land, not just yours," she said while hauling a plastic garbage bag half full with cigarette butts, candy wrappers, broken glass and other trash.

Over the years, there's been some decrease in the rubbish levels on the beach, said Daniel Alvarez, a member of the Oneula Surf Club, which started its own regular beach cleanups in 1991 and whose members were out in force yesterday.

Still, when the surfers arrive early on a Saturday or Sunday morning, there's always a new load of beer bottles, cans and other rubbish, even though garbage cans are plentifully scattered throughout the park.

Sure enough, even as Alvarez spoke, volunteers came racing down from one end of the park to report they had chased away a guy in a pickup truck trying to unload his garbage.

"Would it really have been so hard for them to find a trash can to put their stuff in it?" asked Erica Suzuki, the sophomore class president at Campbell High School, which had dozens of students on hand for the clean-up.

Pine, chair of the 'Ewa Beach Weed and Seed neighborhood restoration group, said yesterday's cleanup was the kickoff to a year-long campaign to take environmental action to a new level.

Experts will go into the schools to help teachers spread the word on environmental issues, educational events will be held on the beach, and there will be other projects to reach out to more youths, she said.

"It's a way to keep the kids fighting back against drugs," she said. "Some of them have parents who have drug problems themselves, and they're the ones who are most excited. They were passing out fliers about the clean-up like crazy."

Kumia said he wouldn't be surprised to see the kids taking a new message back to their parents.

"I think a lot of the parents have forgotten what's really important," he said. "They work so hard to make money that they leave their family behind. The kids see them chasing the big titles, the big homes and the expensive cars and feel left out. I think it's time for us to go back to family."