2012-10-19 / Community

Rockaway Duo Lends A Helping Hand In Hawaii


Homeowner Kamaka Fernandez and Leah Shapiro of Rockaway watch as Anthony Daly gets help with a pneumatic driver, Friday at the Kauai Habitat for Humanity build at Fernandez’s home in Anahola. Homeowner Kamaka Fernandez and Leah Shapiro of Rockaway watch as Anthony Daly gets help with a pneumatic driver, Friday at the Kauai Habitat for Humanity build at Fernandez’s home in Anahola. Were it not for Habitat for Humanity, Kamaka Fernandez would not be building his family’s dream house.

A new Global Village volunteer group, consisting of 13 members, two of whom are from Rockaway, arrived Thursday to continue construction on three Kaua‘i Habitat for Humanity home sites. The homes, including Fernandez’s, are located at the Anahola Hawaiian Homes.

Rockaway residents Leah Shapiro and Anthony Daly are making the peninsula proud with their efforts overseas. Lindsey Valenta, from Boulder, Colo., is the man in charge of the new construction team. It is his first time working as a team leader and his second building project on Kauai.

“It was so rewarding, in a place I enjoy being,” he said of his first volunteer experience on the island. “I wanted to help.” Valenta says there is something particularly special about this team. Nine out of 13 of the volunteers are what he calls “first-timers,” either on the island or working with Habitat for Humanity. “This team itself is rather amazing,” he said. “These people are willing to give up their vacation.”

Volunteer Cynthia Woods has been working with Habitat for Humanity since 1987. She says the most rewarding part is “at the end of the day, seeing what you’ve accomplished.”

“I work in an office ... you don’t really create something,” she said of her dayto day job. “It makes me feel good that we’re actually really needed here because they don’t have many volunteers [on Kaua‘i].”

While this is her first Global Village experience, Woods says it won’t be her last. She has plans for a trip to New Zealand to work on a similar project in November. As part of the rules, a family selected for Habitat for Humanity homeownership must contribute a minimum of 400 hours of labor building their own home.

“They have to put in what Habitat calls ‘sweat equity,’ ” Valenta said, a strategy used to reduce cost and instill a sense of pride and ownership.

Fernandez doesn’t mind one bit.

“I plan to put in a lot more,” he said. “Whatever it takes.”

So far, Fernandez says he is pleased with the progress. When finished, he and his family will have a home, built to their own design, overlooking Kaua‘i’s eastern coast and seated near the base of Kalalea Mountain.

“My wife and I have been waiting for this for many years,” he said. “The wait for this location was long.”

Twenty years to be exact.

“I thank God for what he is giving me,” Fernandez said. “Habitat does quality work. I mean, they are good.”

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