An oli, blessings in Hawaiian and English, music, hula, mural painting, walking tours and local produce and food for sale marked the official dedication of the new Ola Resilience Trail in Hau`ula on Saturday, Oct. 1.
The trail, completed with the help of an $18,000 AARP Livable Community Challenge Grant, is already being used by kupuna and keiki for walking exercise and play.
“We are calling this the Ola Resilience Trail. Ola is a Hawaiian word that means to survive but thrive and be resilient,” said Dotty Kelly-Paddock, the executive director of the Hui O Hau`ula, which received the AARP Community Challenge Grant.
The trail goes around the site of the future five-acre Ko`olauloa Community Resilience Hub. The building planned for the hub will house health, education, social, economic, food, housing and other services and will also serve as a Federal Emergency Management Agency Community Safe Room to protect Windward Oahu residents in the case of a hurricane, tsunami, or other disaster.
Most government buildings on the North Windward coast are in flood or tsunami zones and there are no disaster shelters between Kaneohe and Mililani, said Kelly-Paddock.
“It’s critical for this community to have a resilience hub because it is so at risk,” she said.
In a disaster, officials expect Kamehameha Highway, the only road connecting Hau`ula to the rest of the island, will be shut down leaving residents without power, water, shelter and food for weeks.
“We have to prepare for our food, water and shelter, resilient-built shelter so we can protect our community,” Kelly-Paddock said.
Hui ‘O Hau`ula plans to continue clearing land on the hill above the trail so that the future FEMA community safe room/disaster shelter can be built on higher ground about 80 to 90 feet above sea level and out of the extreme tsunami zone.
In the meantime, the land already cleared has become a community hub for the Saturday Hau`ula Farmers Market and for recreation.
“We come together as a community here and make some beautiful memories,” said Jojo Chang, a Hau`ula resident. “I want to thank AARP for the donation of the benches and the trail, it’s going to be an awesome addition to our community.”
“Community challenge grants are meant to fund quick action projects that can make a community more livable,” said Jackie Boland, AARP Hawai`i Community Outreach Director. “The added bonus for this in my eyes is that this is completely community driven and run by volunteers, which I think shows the amazing power of volunteers in being able to change and shape their communities.”
The Hau`ula grant is one of three awarded in Hawai`i this year and part of $3.4 million awarded among 260 organizations nationwide. Grantees are completing quick-action projects that help communities become more livable by improving public places; transportation; housing; diversity, equity and inclusion; digital access; and civic engagement, with an emphasis on the needs of adults age 50 and over.
The grant program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative, which supports the efforts of cities, towns, neighborhoods and rural areas to become great places to live for people of all ages. Since the Community Challenge Grant program started in 2017, 20 Hawai`i projects have received $234,366 to improve and create parks, beautify urban areas, bring mobile, live theatre to the Big Island, encourage bicycle sharing by older residents, make streets safer and generally make communities more livable.
Applications for the 2023 Community Challenge Grants will be available next year. Non-profit or government organizations with ideas on how to improve their communities are encouraged to apply.
This story is provided by AARP Hawaii. Visit the AARP Hawaii page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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