Rain ma de a muddy mess during this year’s Paws Around the Park fundraiser at North Shore Dog Park. Still, the inclement weather didn’t deter some 40 dogs and their humans from attending the annual event sponsored by Kauai North Shore Community Foundation. In fact, roughly 200 people showed up in April to support the dog park, entering their pooches in contests like “Strut Your Mutt.” In the end, KNSCF raised approximately $18,000 to be used for regular maintenance and upkeep of the leash-free zone.
“The whole point (of KNSCF) is to give locally and to do things locally,” says Teresa Young, one of KNSCF’s founding board members.
The dog park, which opened in 2013, was the first of many large projects initiated by KNSCF. The nonprofit was established by caring community members like Young in 2012, and supports charitable causes within five North Shore communities — Anahola, Kilauea, Princeville, Hanalei and Haena. It hosts three annual fundraisers related to four “pillars” — health and wellness, education, public spaces (the dog park), and youth and seniors. All money donated to and raised by KNSCF is distributed within the local community, either through projects such as playgrounds in Kilauea, Princeville and Anahola, or grants made to organizations that benefit the North Shore, like Aloha Angels.
“It all goes back to the community,” affirms board member Ken Rosenthal, whose wife, Maylette Garces, also is an active KNSCF volunteer. “Almost every penny goes into the things that we’re raising money for.”
He explains that having an all volunteer-based organization, including the nine board members, is what makes this possible. One of the group’s most valuable volunteers is April McGinnis, who serves on each of KNSCF’s committees.
“I don’t know what to do with free time, so I fill it with something, but I have a lot of fun,” says McGinnis, whose recent accomplishment was spearheading the dog park fundraiser.
Young prides the organization in maintaining volunteers like McGinnis, as they allow it to have minimal overhead costs. “It’s all sweat equity,” she says.
Also, members have a space to convene regularly, thanks to Princeville at Hanalei Community Association, which donates its space to KNSCF at no cost, saving even more money. It’s where its fundraisers, such as “Savor,” an evening of wine and chocolate, are organized
and where ideas are kicked into full throttle. In fact, the August celebration netted some $21,000, which was distributed equally among three organization: Aloha Angels, to assist with its after-school mentoring programs; Pu‘ukumu School, to help with its scholarship programs; and University of Hawaii Foundation, for North Shore college students.
KNSCF also has long-term goals, including in the education realm. The objective is to help establish a middle and high school on the North Shore. While Lorri Mull, another dedicated board member who is on the education committee, no longer has any “skin in the game” (her kids are grown), she is on a mission to develop a free educational facility that extends beyond elementary school. She also aims to bring more after-school programs to the area. “So many of these kids get off the bus and they’re here at 2:30, and their parents are working, and they need help with their algebra,” she says.
KNSCF also is committed to supporting after-school programs that inspire health and wellness. At the Ohana Fit Fest, held earlier this year, people of all ages participated in various outdoor competitions. All proceeds were directed to a “fit fund” that will allow North Shore nonprofits in the health and wellness arena, such as after-school sports, to apply for KNSCF grants.
Like Mull, Rosenthal, who heads the health and wellness committee, is simultaneously working on a long-term goal. He’d like to see a recreation center on the North Shore, as well as a community swimming pool. The trouble is acquiring land, as few spaces are affordable and donors are difficult to come by. “There just isn’t anything that’s currently available,” he says.
Other large projects, however, have had success coming together, including a North Shore urgent care center, for which KNSCF awarded a $50,000 grant to help develop. “They should have shovels in the ground soon,” says Mull.
These accomplishments in the past few years have been a team effort among KNSCF volunteers. “We all like spending time with each other. It’s a really good group of people, so we look forward to getting together,” says Young.
They cooperate for the sole purpose of making their community a better place to live. Rosenthal, who moved to Kauai from San Diego almost five years ago, loves how he actually can see the results. “Here, there’s 7,000 people who live on the North Shore, so you can really make a difference in people’s lives with an organization like this,” he says.
The group is excited by how much it’s been able to contribute and yearns to do even more. “It’s extraordinary, really,” says Mull. “We started this as such a small little seed, and now we’ve got branches and leaves and roots in the ground.”
Visit kauainorthshorecommunityfoundation.org for more information or to volunteer.