5 Volunteers Honored for Preserving Maui’s Environment
By Maui Now Staff
Mālama Maui Nui honored five volunteers at its annual Mahalo Event appreciation party, for their work in helping to preserve the beauty and environmental health of Maui County.
Honorees this year included: Buck Joiner, Mike Perry, Les Potts, David Rivera, and Robin Vierra.
The five were honored during an appreciation party held on Saturday Nov. 8 at the J. Walter Cameron Center in Wailuku.
Mālama Maui Nui worked with more than 2,800 volunteers in the 2014 fiscal year through various projects including community cleanups, beautification projects, and recycling events.
Most recently, the organization helped to facilitate the “Get the Drift and Bag It” campaign to clean marine debris and coastal areas of trash, in which more than 500 volunteers worked to conduct 22 cleanups between Sept. 20 and Nov. 1.
From the hundreds of volunteers involved with the organization, Mālama Maui Nui selected jsut five outstanding individuals to be honored. Organization leaders released the following information on each honoree:
- Buck Joiner: has cleaned his Adopt-a-Highway section of Piʻilani 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 Kamaʻole Point.
- Mike Perry: has been a constant presence at Kanahā Beach Park for over twenty 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 commitment at Kanahā.
- Les Potts: otherwise referred to as “Mr. Līpoa Point”, has been a driving force in keeping that area clean. Beyond picking up litter by himself—and requiring his own roll-off container to cart to the landfill the amounts of trash he collects—Potts regularly organizes workdays during each of the five major Mālama Maui Nui annual cleanup campaigns to get as many hands involved to help preserve this popular West Maui landmark.
- David Rivera: has been cleaning Kahului Harbor since at least 2007, single-handedly picking up litter and collecting tires into manageable piles for Mālama Maui Nui (then known as 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 River Mouth 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, 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.
“We wanted to give thanks to the people who give so much of themselves year-round to our environment, to show them how much they are valued” said Mālama Maui Nui Executive Director John P. de Jesus in an organization press release. “We look forward to doing this every year, to celebrate the volunteer spirit in Maui County and take the time to say ‘Mahalo’ in a significant way to everyone who participates in the caring of our community.”
Mālama Maui Nui holds volunteer events year-round, and encourages the community to get involved by either attending a hosted cleanup event, or by organizing their own cleanups. Upcoming events include:
- Saturday, Nov. 15: Big Beach cleanup with Surfrider Foundation–Maui Chapter;
- Sunday, Nov. 23: Kahului Harbor Beach Cleanup with Target and Surfrider Foundation; and
- Saturday, Dec. 6: Annual “Holiday Gift to Maui Nui” cleanup campaign.