LIHU‘E — Even the sidewalk was not safe, said a Retired Senior Volunteer Program Foster Grandparent Wednesday.
“If I was just a few more inches to the street, they would have hit me,” she said, re-composing herself after being yelled an un-nice comment as a late-model SUV surged past the group with its accompanying protesting roar.
Deputy County Engineer Lyle Tabata saw the group from his office at the Mo‘ikeha Building, wondering about the traffic safety messages being advocated by the Senior Corps as part of the Senior Corps Week commemoration.
“They (motorists) are supposed to come to a complete stop and remain stopped until the pedestrians are completely out of the crosswalk,” Tabata said in a phone conversation. “Too many of our drivers just wait until the pedestrian is halfway across and start up again. That is wrong.”
Representatives of RSVP, Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions programs took to the street following a visit with Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. to bring their traffic safety messages to the public, traversing along Rice Street fronting the Kaua‘i Museum and First Hawaiian Bank’s Lihu‘e Branch.
“Senior Corps members will be reminding drivers to turn off their phones, slow down and watch out for pedestrians in crosswalks,” said Linda Nuland-Ames, the Kaua‘i RSVP director.
James Yamamoto, a volunteer with the Kaua‘i Museum, was joined by Liah Drake and Leroy Lagmay, who came out to see what the commotion was all about, cars honking in agreement with some of the sentiments and the kupuna having their usual sense of kupuna camaraderie during the hour-long awareness session.
“This is really a good thing,” Yamamoto said. “People need to be reminded about these things. I also am part of them. They’re my boss.”
Older Americans bring a lifetime of skills and experience as parents, workers and citizens which can be tapped to meet challenges in our community, states a proclamation presented by Carvalho.
The Senior Corps and its three programs — RSVP, Senior Companions and Foster Grandparents — have provided served for more than four decades, proving to be an effective way to engage Americans aged 55 years and older in meeting national and community needs.
The proclamation states Senior Corps provides opportunities for nearly 330,000 older Americans across the nation, including more than 4,000 Senior Corps members in the state of Hawai‘i.
Nuland-Ames said on Kaua‘i, there are more than 400 RSVP members, 35 participants in the Foster Grandparents and five in the Senior Companion program.
Senior Corps volunteers last year provided more than 96.2 million hours of service, helping to improve the lives of our most vulnerable citizens, strengthen out educational system, protect our environment, provide independent living services and contribute to our public safety, the proclamation states.
“Last year on Kaua‘i, Senior Corps members provided more than 50,000 hours of service valued at more than $1 million,” Nuland-Ames said. “This year, our Senior Corps members started growing fruits and vegetables in their own gardens to supplement the food boxes which are being used to supplement food for our hungry people.”
Nuland-Ames said this should be an example where others can grow gardens to help feed the island and places where they cannot grow, should be offering land so people who want to garden are able to provide to help feed those who need help.
Service by older Americans helps volunteers by keeping them active, healthy and engaged, the proclamation states. It helps our communities by solving local problems and helps our nation by saving taxpayer dollars, reducing healthcare costs and strengthening our democracy.
Taking his lead from the Tuesday Older Americans Award Recognition Ceremony, Carvalho rallied the kupuna together with a round of “Hele On to Kaua‘i” before the kupuna, armed with their traffic signs headed off to remind the world about traffic safety.