Lana`i Branch Manager Kaena Doolin appeared in the October edition of Lanai`i Today.
“For the first time, I know where I belong. This is my community,” she said
It would surprise no kindergartner teacher or parent to know that children are born to be kind, and also unkind. The impulse to be kind beats strong in some, is faint in others. But do not mistake kindness for timidity. Anyone who has leapt to defend a person who is being bullied knows that kindness requires courage. When practiced regularly, as with other human capital such as compassion and gratitude, being kind becomes a habit, a choice one can make every day.
Here are just a few individuals – there are more in our community than space allows – who reflect the best of what a community can be, those who have chosen, and have made it a practice – and for some, their life’s work – to being kind.
Kaena Doolin, MEO, Lāna‘i branch manager, juggles so many tasks and programs for youth to seniors that it would make even the most organized among us dizzy. But Doolin keeps a laser-like focus on the goal: meeting the needs of the people she serves. And making sure they know the resources available to them. She finds the work meaningful: “For the first time, I know where I belong. This is my community.”
Debbie Wheeler volunteers at Na Hoaloha, a nonprofit group based in Wailuku, whose goal is to help senior citizens stay home and live at home for as long as they can, which might mean providing transportation, delivering food, weekly calls. Wheeler walks with Sophie Amoncio, an elderly kama‘āina, three times a week, since 2016. Their walks take between fifteen to twenty-five minutes; they sit and talk for the rest of the visit, a welcome respite for the caregiver. “Sophie is like family now. It gives me a lot of joy to spend time with her,” says Wheeler. “This is a genuine way to give back to the community.”
The clients of Anabel Raqueno and Uri Cabatu, certified nursing assistants, Lāna‘i Kīnā‘ole, are the elderly, who have varying needs. Sometimes they need someone to walk with or talk to, or help them take a shower. The visit is also a break for the caregiver. “Every single task is important,” says Cabatu. “We try to find the balance,” says Raqueno. “But they are more than clients. Our attachments are so strong. We consider them family.” The currency of Cabatu and Raqueno’s work is compassion, but what their clients feel and are accorded after every visit, is respect, a sense of dignity in their slow decline.
The pace at Rainbow Pharmacy is blistering. Since August 2021, Kert Shuster, pharmacist/owner, and his staff have conducted over a thousand rapid PCR tests on the island, about two hundred tests a week. Adding to their proverbial plate is weekly COVID-19 antigen testing of students and faculty at LHES since September. The pace may not let up for months. Shuster will do whatever the work requires. “I am super devoted to keeping the community safe,” he says. It is difficult to categorize Shuster’s work, for he wears many hats. But the kindness that drives him is heroic.
Stan Ruidas, shift worker, Maui Electric. From 8 a.m. to 9 a.m, Monday to Friday, Ruidas carries bags of groceries for senior citizens who shop at Pine Isle Market. He feels a deep connection to them, never realizing when he first started in March 2020, how rewarding it would be help them in this way. “We all can do our part in the community,” he says.