2016 President’s Report

Our current president, Ruth Bernstone, gave the following report at our general meeting on January 15:

It’s hard to imagine that 2015 could be more adventurous than 2014, but it was!  With many new programs and the continuation of old ones, all of us were kept very busy.

I’d like to start by telling you about my trip to Honolulu this week.  Representative Cindy Evans was to be awarded the Legislative of the year Award by the Friends of the Library of Hawaii and asked me to come and share this occasion with her.  It was held at Washington Place, currently considered the Governors house, but it has a long history and was home to Queen Lili’okulani before her arrest. I was fortunate to get a tour of the place following the award ceremony.

The Governor and Mrs. Ige were present, along with Stacey Aldrich and Keith Fujiyo from the State Librarian’s office, several legislators, Amy Asselbaye from the State Board of Education, and FLH affiliates.

In her speech, Cindy told the story of the beginning of her love of libraries.  She was a latchkey kid growing up in the Midwest – her mother being one of the few that worked at that time, and the library was a safe and interesting haven for her where she spent many hours looking at the pictures in books.  She spoke of how we came to acquire the bookmobile and bring it to Waikoloa, how the WVA donated land to put it on and hooked it up to electricity for us, and what an asset is has become to our community.  She mentioned the many programs we have developed here to enhance literacy, such as the scholarship program. She introduced me as the President of our Friends affiliate and I was approached by many affiliates who wanted to learn all about our activities, and I have to say proudly, that everyone was duly impressed!  Even Nainoa, the Executive Director of FLH spoke of our organization as the most active in the state.  Waikoloa was the talk of the town that morning!

This year, we continued our participation in programs such as Foodland’s Give Aloha the month of September and Amazon Smile (if you log onto Amazonsmile.com and choose Friends of the Library – Waikoloa Region as your charity, a donation will be made to us), our co-sponsorship of the Waikoloa Talk Story nights, participation in the Waikoloa Christmas parade, the Walk/run for Literacy and sponsorship of our 5 member Newbery Quizbowl team.

In February, we sent two of our board members, Lynne Maclaren and Alexandra Bernstein, to the FHL Affiliates conference.  This was their first opportunity to meet the FHL staff, other affiliates and important State personnel, a time to make valuable contacts and collect information.

In April, Cathi Keene was at the Kealakehe Senior Awards Night to present two more Joseph E. Spadaro Memorial scholarships to needy students to earn a Certificate of Achievement or an Associate of Applied Science degree in the Transportation and Applied Technology or Construction Technology Department of the Community College of Hilo.  Bette, Cathi and I had a chance this month to get together with two of the 3 students and their families now being sponsored, and to get to know them a little better.  It is always so rewarding to hear how appreciative they are for this opportunity for their children and grandchildren.

While I was in Honolulu this week, I stopped in to see Luella Spadaro in her care center.  She will be 98 in February and is quite frail but still speaks her mind.  She told me of how she and Joe built their house here in Waikoloa – the family still owns it – and of her warm memories of her years here.  I showed her pictures of all of our students and told her how grateful we are to her and her family for providing the funding and how happy we are to be able to assist in the selection of the students, add a little to the money pot, and administer the scholarships – and we learn more and get better at this each year thanks to Cathi Keene’s clear vision.  We are proud of the students’ achievements – our second year student, Joel Duhaysod was named first in his class of automechanic students, and we try to help them succeed as best as we can.

We also volunteered again at the 26th Newbery Quiz Bowl, co-chaired by Paula Kamiya since it’s inception.  I was Quizmaster- and probably won’t be asked to do it again as I messed up one of the questions, and Bette, Norma Edelman, Lynne and Alexandra were also there helping out.  Our team didn’t win a prize, but had fun participating.  This April it will held on the east side at Kamehameha School and we have five students participating.  Lynne is following our team’s efforts by attending their meetings, and we plan to take over the leadership of the team for the 2016-17 Quiz Bowl since the current leader will be retiring.

In June, Stacey Aldrich, the newly appointed Hawaii State Librarian and Keith Fujio, Acting Special Assistant to the State Librarian, who has worked on our future library project for the last five years, paid a visit to Waikoloa Village at the invitation of State Representative Cindy Evans.  Ms. Aldridge, who served as state librarian of California and as deputy secretary for the Office of Commonwealth Libraries of Pennsylvania, holds a master’s degree in library science. 

After a presentation by Roger Wehrsig, WVA General Manager, on the demographics of the rapidly growing Waikoloa Region, a visit to the Bookmobile and lunch at Banji’s, FL-WR volunteers had an opportunity to describe the history of the Bookmobile and our efforts since 2010 to support community literacy and promote our future library.  Needless to say, she was very impressed with the wide range of our activities, and appreciated the value of our community’s donation of WVA land to attain a library for the Waikoloa Region.  Her visit ended with a tour of the future library site near the stables, of the village and the Waikoloa region, and a visit to Thelma Parker library.  She now understands the need of our growing region for a large library and supports our desire for a facility that can be a community gathering place.

In September, we launched two new projects.   After meeting with the Kealekehe HS librarians earlier in the year, Vivian Green established the need for e-books readers for students who don’t have their own, to be able to access the Hawaii BOE free e-library.  The schools have to pay to have access to this, but if students don’t have a device, and many of our Waikoloa students don’t, they have no way to access it.  Vivian wrote a grant, applied to the FLH and received a matching grant to provide 6 Kindles and accessories to the HS.  These were delivered in September, much to the delight of the two librarians.  Vivian will be following up on the results of this program and, if successful, we will apply for another grant to fund more of these devices.

The Waikoloa School has also expressed an interest in having us provide more e-readers to their library since they are also paying to participate in the DOE program.  Vivian will be following up on this in the next few weeks.

Also in September, after weeks of acquiring the materials and frustrating efforts at communicating with hospital personnel, Mali was successful in delivering to the NHCH Birthing Center the first 100 of the 500 board books called On the Day the You Were Born by Debra Frazier that we purchased to be given to each new baby.  The new PR person at the hospital put an article about this project in the Queen’s newsletter, as well as the WHT, and it seems that other hospitals are expressing an interest in having us provide it for them as well!  Many thanks to Mali Mueller, our VP of Programs and Activities for creating this program and her persistence in putting it into motion.

In October, in the process of soliciting a donation of a gift certificate for our first silent auction, Darien Gee got more than she hoped for.  Under the Bodhi Tree restaurant owner Abraham Go offered to name us as their organization of the month.  They provided a delicious vegan dinner outside the restaurant for 25 people that sold out so fast we didn’t even have time to organize it.  They also collected donations for us that month in the restaurant and raised over $1000 in total.  In gratitude, we helped out at their food and drink booth at a PATH race at Cindercone National Park.  We urge you try a meal there at the Mauna Lani Shops whenever you’re thinking of where to go out to eat, and be sure to thank them for helping us.

The 6th annual Walk/run for Literacy in November was the best ever.  We had over 100 runners and walkers, twice that of last year.  Our increased PR was obviously successful, and our inventory of leftover T-shirts is the lowest ever, almost none!  And Under the Bodhi Tree restaurant provided drinks and snacks for the runners.  We are the only 5K in Waikoloa and we’re already planning how we can make it better for next year.

In conjunction with the walk/run and the WOC plant sale, we had our first silent auction led by Stephanie Stearns and Darien Gee.  Sandra Martin provided us with instructions on using the Square to process all our transactions and kept us on the right track the day of the event.  The Waikoloa Sew N Sews donated a beautiful quilt and we ended up with over 50 items, all of which were bidded on and sold.  It was a huge job, but also a huge success, raising almost $5000.  And Darien left us with an organizational trail that will make our next one so much easier.  We will be planning our event for next year soon and welcome all volunteers who wish to help in planning this event.

Also in November, as if that weren’t enough, Cindy Evans hosted a Wine and Pupu fundraiser at her home for 20 people.  It was a lot of fun and a great success, raising another $650 for FL-WR.

Now we will be planning on how to spend these funds to further enhance literacy in our community members in the coming year.  If you have ideas that you would like to share, please contact one of us and let us know.  We have thrown out the ideas of a toddler reading to me program, and adult ESL class for parents of Waikoloa ESL students, and an art and writing contest for Waikoloa children to celebrate National Library Week April 10-16.  We need volunteers to accomplish any of these or other ideas so please sign up to volunteer and help out.

We were unable to participate in the Mauna Lani Charity Trees again this year because we won last year, but are looking forward to participating again in 2016.

Thanks to Bobbie and Dick Walker, their cute white convertible, and some new young volunteers who walked and handed out bookmarks, FL-WR participated again in the Waikoloa Christmas Parade.

Everyone is always asking me, “what is the status of our future library”.  Since Cindy Evans is unable to be with us tonight – she had an airline reservation to return on Wed. night but had to stay for a caucus meeting on Thursday and couldn’t get another flight until Saturday – I will bring you up to date.  The State Librarian’s Office and DAGS (Dept. of General Services) had identified the site off of Waikoloa Road at the stables as their preferred site.  In the last few months they finally started evaluating the cost of providing infrastructure (water, electricity, roads) at that site and discussing what would be required with the County Planning Dept.  The county is indicating that they will require a septic system that will accommodate all three sites, as well as a turn lane – all of which changes the expected costs of infrastructure from $1 million to almost $4 million.  Based on that, the DAGS is now discussing all options, including a traffic study on Waikoloa Road and other possible appropriate sites where the total acquisition infrastructure costs will be minimized.  In addition, Cindy is facilitating a meeting with the State Librarian’s Office staff and the Hawaii County Planning Director to discuss these issues.

Once the site is decided upon, Rep. Evans and Sen. Inouye will go to the legislature in 2017 to obtain the funds for this phase.  Funding for the design phase is already in place.

On the positive side, the State Librarian’s Office is optimistic that these issues can be resolved this year so that the DNLR can review acceptance of the site into the state’s inventory and the title can be transferred in the next year or so and we can stay on track to start building in 2018. 

Of course, we couldn’t have accomplished any of this without the support of our legislators, Governor Ige, the WVA, our dedicated Board of Directors, our members and the Waikoloa community.  I thank you all!

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