Homeless volunteers help park cleanup
David Kelepolo handed out trash bags to holiday picnickers at Ala Moana Beach Park yesterday.
"It makes me feel good that I'm doing it," said Kelepolo, 41, a resident at Next Step, the state's homeless shelter in Kakaako.
Kelepolo was one of about 10 homeless volunteers from the Next Step shelter who passed out trash bags to beachgoers to help keep the park clean.
"At least I'm productive. I'm not ashamed," he said. "I'm picking up rubbish for our aina."
The volunteers were to return to the park at 5 a.m. today to gather the rubbish bags and pick up leftover trash.
Some volunteers said they chose to spend the holiday caring for the park because it feels good and helps them stay positive.
"The whole purpose of being out here is to serve the community," said Tasi Lafo, a Next Step resident who used to live at the park. He brought his two boys to help out. "It gives me joy because I like to do stuff for the community."
Kalihi resident John DeCorte, who received a bag, found it helpful. "It's doing something constructive for the community," he said.
When Ed Ayers was offered a bag, he asked for two. "I thought it was cool," he said. "Helps keep the park clean."
The effort gives shelter residents an appreciation of what they have, said Utu Langi, executive director of H-5, a nonprofit that manages Next Step. Ala Moana Center gave H-5 a donation for providing volunteers to assist with cleanup.
"It makes them feel part of the community," Langi said.
This is the second year that H-5 has picked up trash at Ala Moana after the Fourth of July fireworks show.
Ala Moana Center presents the show every year and contracts a group to aid cleanup, said Matthew Derby, AMC public relations director.
"It's a pretty big effort," he said, adding, "We really do appreciate their (volunteers') efforts. They are part of our overall efforts in presenting this (fireworks show) to the public."