Physicians, staff, and family members honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by gathering for a day of service and outreach; a “day on, not a day off”.
HONOLULU — More than 1,000 Kaiser Permanente Hawaii physicians, staff, and family members volunteered with 10 nonprofits on Oʻahu, Maui, Hawaiʻi Island, and Kauaʻi, taking part in a companywide Martin Luther King Jr. Day tradition known as the Kaiser Permanente Annual Day of Service hosted by the physicians of Kaiser Permanente Hawaii.
“Volunteering together on Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a cherished tradition for physicians, providers, and staff, and their family and friends all over the state,” said Geoff Sewell, MD, president and executive medical director for Hawaii Permanente Medical Group, which cares for Kaiser Permanente Hawaii’s 255,000 members. “We’ve expanded the number of partner organizations we work with to further revitalize ‘ahupuaa’ lands and promote cultural health.” The Hawaiian word “ahupuaa” refers to a large traditional subdivision of land.
Kaiser Permanente organized volunteer opportunities at 5 sites on Oʻahu. On the Leeward side, volunteers gathered at Ka‘ala Cultural Learning Center at the base of Mauna Ka‘ala to plant dryland taro, rebuild embankments for loi patches, and remove overgrown grass, weeds, and brush from the loi. On the Windward side, the organization partnered with ‘Ai Love Gardens, Papahana Kuaola, Kāko‘o ‘Ōiwi, and Paepae o He‘eia, 4 nonprofits located within He‘eia ahupua‘a in Kāneʻohe, to complete restoration work in mountain, wetland, and ocean environments. Volunteers assisted with rebuilding loi, planting native species and fruit trees, removing invasive weeds, and building a rock wall around the 800-year-old He‘eia fishpond.
On Maui, physicians and staff volunteered at Paeloko, one of the island’s Hawaiian cultural learning centers, located in Waihe‘e. Located on a site with particular cultural significance to the demi-god Maui, Paeloko provides hands-on opportunities for the community to learn about Native Hawaiian arts, culture, and language. Volunteers planted native plants around the property; built and painted new picnic tables and benches; built a fire pit; and completed landscaping and clearing of the “auwai” (irrigation ditch), “wauke” (paper mulberry) patch, “mala” (garden), and “loi”. Maui volunteers also spent the morning at the Waihe‘e Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge helping to restore native plants, clean up the shoreline, and clear the gulches of invasive grass.
Employees volunteered at 2 sites on Hawaiʻi Island: Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve in North Kona and Haleolono in Hilo. At Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a, volunteers cleared woody shrubs and weeds, collected native seeds, and repaired trails to preserve the unique dryland environment, home to nesting “nene” (Hawaiian geese) and native species. Hilo employees worked at Haleolono to weed and clear the coastline, gather rocks, and restore an ancient fishpond wall managed by the Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation.
On Kauaʻi, volunteers from Kaiser Permanente Līhuʻe Clinic partnered with the Waipā Foundation to remove weeds, roots, and snails from the loi and stream banks. Located on the north shore of Kauaʻi, Waipā Foundation maintains the Waipā ahupua‘a as a living learning center with educational spaces, stewardship projects, and food production facilities.
“We’ve committed to supporting this work because we believe that the health of the land is deeply connected to the health of its people,” said Dr. Sewell. “As health care providers seeking to eliminate health disparities in Hawaiʻi, we must be out in the community, contributing to important causes that restore health and hope.”
The companywide day of service is part of a nationwide effort by Kaiser Permanente to honor the legacy of Dr. King. Physicians and staff in Kaiser Permanente’s 8 regions gather for a day of service — a “day on, not a day off” — and outreach in the communities they care for every day.
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.2 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health.