Malama Maui Nui recognizes volunteers at mahalo event

Malama Maui Nui held its annual volunteer appreciation party Nov. 8 to honor the many individuals, community groups and nonprofit organizations that together help preserve the beauty and environmental health of Maui County.

Malama Maui Nui worked with more than 2,800 volunteers in the 2014 fiscal year through its facilitation and/or hosting of community cleanups, beautification projects and recycling events. Most recently during the “Get the Drift and Bag It!” marine debris and coastal cleanup initiative this fall, more than 500 volunteers participated at 22 cleanups that took place between Sept. 20 and Nov. 1.

About 60 people attended the mahalo event at the J. Cameron Center auditorium to celebrate their accomplishments, including representatives from MMN partner organizations Surfrider Foundation-Maui Chapter, Maui Nui Marine Resource Council, Haleakala Lions Club, Maui Lions Club and the University of Hawaii Maui College’s Students Ohana for Sustainability Club.

From the hundreds of volunteers involved with the organization, Malama Maui Nui selected five outstanding individuals to honor at this year’s event. These honorees have gone above and beyond in their environmental stewardship for Maui County, dedicating their time and energy for years to specific locations they value:

* Buck Joiner has cleaned his Adopt-a-Highway section of Piilani Highway for 23 years and has spearheaded litter-prevention and beautification projects throughout South Maui for 32 years, including organizing a crew of volunteers to build the Kalama Park playground and to advocate for and create the park at Kamaole Point.

* Mike Perry has been a constant presence at Kanaha Beach Park for more than 20 years. Perry picks up litter on a daily basis, plants native plants, removes invasive species and fights the kiawe tree overgrowth to protect the wetlands there. Significant damage from the 2011 tsunami has in large part been undone through Perry’s unwavering commitment to Kanaha.

* Les Potts, otherwise referred to as “Mr. Lipoa Point,” has been a driving force in keeping that area clean. Beyond picking up litter by himself, Potts regularly organizes workdays during each of the five major Malama Maui Nui annual cleanup campaigns to help preserve this popular West Maui landmark.

* David Rivera has been cleaning Kahului Harbor since at least 2007, picking up litter and collecting tires into manageable piles for Malama Maui Nui (then known as the Community Work Day Program) to pick up. Rivera doesn’t just clean; he engages with the different user groups at the harbor to encourage them to adopt better anti-litter practices. He also walks his neighborhood in Happy Valley, clearing the streets of litter, dumped appliances and furniture, organizing everything into neat piles to ease the collection process for MMN.

* Robin Vierra has visited the river mouth at Paukukalo at least once a week for the past five years to clear the area of trash and overgrown vegetation. Vierra recognizes that without frequent oversight, the river mouth will quickly grow out of control. When needed, she will additionally organize a crew to help her gather the green waste and litter into piles for MMN to pick up.

The evening’s meal was provided by Roy’s Ka’anapali, owned by Roy Yamaguchi and under the leadership of Executive Chef Joey Macadangdang and General Manager Matty Dochin. The event concluded with a screening of select videos from Maui Huliau Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote environmental literacy and leadership among Maui’s youth.

For more information on upcoming events or to reserve MMN cleanup supplies including post-event trash pickup, call 877-2524 or email volunteer@cwdhawaii.org.