Drumming Up Community Support

As Chairman of Taste of Hawaii, Rotary Club of Kapaa’s Ron Margolis raised $60,000 this year for area public schools and scholarships for students

You might recognize the name Ron Margolis. The busy mover and shaker is not only an active member of the community, but he’s also well-versed in the real estate industry, and he’s a professional drummer in his “spare” time. Given the number of his well-rounded activities, it’s likely that, at some point, you may have crossed paths.

But where his name and face might be most familiar is through his association and persevering voluntary efforts with Rotary Club of Kapaa. He has been an instrumental part of the organization for several years, including serving as president and chairing its signature event, Taste of Hawaii.

“Both jobs (chairing and presidency) require dedication, leadership skills and a willingness to serve,” says fellow Rotarian Marty Kahn. “As a result of his efforts, this year’s Taste of Hawaii was one of the most successful in recent times.”

Approximately $60,000 was raised, and though it took countless hours and nearly 200 volunteers to produce, it was well worth it. The money helps fund programs such as Adopt-A-Classroom and academic scholarships.

“It’s rewarding knowing the joy and assistance we bring to lives our work touches,” says Margolis.

Taste of Hawaii first was held in 1988, when Coco Palms Resort served as its home. Now, party central is Smith’s Tropical Paradise in Wailua, where for a fee of $100 attendees have the opportunity to enjoy as much food and drink — provided by chefs and vendors from around the state — as they wish.

Rotary Club wasn’t always about events like this. The group was founded in 1905 as a business-networking organization. A group of professionals from varying sectors would get together and regularly rotate their meetings, so that they were held in different places of vocation — hence the name Rotary Club. Their goal was to provide a high ethical standard to their businesses, and this continues to be the core essence of the club.

“The basis of Rotary is to be that way in business — deliver the product that you say you’re going to deliver with the conditions that you promised,” explains Margolis.

Since then, the organization has branched out to include programs and activities that help give back to the community. Rotary Club of Kapaa supports public schools, including Kapaa Elementary, Middle and High schools. At the high school level, Rotarians help students get involved in community service and offer yearly leadership training. The club also helps elementary schools become better equipped with reading programs and materials, and recently spent more than $13,000 on books. Margolis goes above and beyond his altruistic duties by sponsoring a classroom at Kanuikapono Public Charter School with his wife Gwen, as part of the Adopt-A-Classroom program originally founded by Ric Cox of Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay. Not only did they donate money, but Margolis also spent an hour every week in his “adopted” kindergarten classroom last year giving music lessons.

“It was fun for them and fun for me,” he says.

A good portion of the work he and other Rotary Club of Kapaa members do for the community — beach cleanups with the Kauai Surfrider Foundation or installing a basketball court at the Boys & Girls Club in Kapaa — isn’t financially based.

One thing Margolis is proud to have helped make happen while he served as president was to organize the Anahola Diabetes and Wellness Fair. Rotary Club of Kapaa partnered with Wilcox Health and brought in clinics to provide free testing, healthy foods and educational information for residents of the Eastside town.

“The idea was to do something different,” he says. “It was really moving to see interaction with the community.”

Another Kapaa Rotary project, in conjunction with other groups including Kauai Lifeguard Association, is the installation of an ocean-safety video for visitors at Lihue Airport, which has been playing at baggage claim since 2013.

“We want to do a service for visitors and educate them about the dangers of water around the state,” says Margolis.

The local club also plays an integral part in helping communities worldwide, and has participated in projects such as building a water-sanitation facility in India and eradicating polio.

“The scope of what we do is really enhanced,” he says.

A Philadelphia native, Margolis moved to the island in 2004, and it took no time before he became involved in the community. Rotary, of which he has been a member since 2006, has big plans for the upcoming year, including the installation of “fitness pods” along Kapaa bike path (Ka Ala Hele Makalae).

“I care for people,” replies Margolis, when asked why he continues to give back to the community.

For more information about Rotary Club of Kapaa, visit portal.clubrunner.ca/7731.