Demolition builds friendships

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<p>Auntie Gwen Ahana, Annunciation Catholic Church, Tootsie Berdon-Weller, Erin Stephens, Habitat for Humanity West Hawaii. (PHOTO BY CATHERINE TARLETON| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>
<p>Patrick Hurney, executive director of Habitat for Humanity West Hawaii. (PHOTO BY CATHERINE TARLETON| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>
<p>Workers help at the demo day. (PHOTO BY CATHERINE TARLETON| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>
<p>Jayden Brewer, 8, and Jay Brewer Jr., 4, supervise the demo day. (PHOTO BY CATHERINE TARLETON| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>
<p>Volunteers work during the demo day. (PHOTO BY CATHERINE TARLETON| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>
<p>Volunteers help clear the Berdon family property in Kuhio Village as part of Habitat for Humanity’s neighborhood revitalization project. PHOTO BY CATHERINE TARLETON | SPECIAL TO NHN</p>

Waimea had her gray shawl on Saturday afternoon, and Kuhio Village was quiet and damp. But just around the bend, there they were: trucks and cars lining both sides of the road, music cranked up, equipment running, laughter and calls of “come eat!”

The Women’s Demo was wrapping up another slice of success with the Habitat for Humanity West Hawaii neighborhood revitalization program, and sending generous plates home.

“Today was absolutely awesome. This was a huge turnout,” said Patrick Hurney, executive director of Habitat for Humanity West Hawaii, who welcomed more than 60 volunteers from all over the island. Widely known for new home building, Habitat for Humanity has extensive community development programs, including the ongoing project at Kuhio Village, where they have already painted 10 homes and done repairs on four more.

“Habitat is leveraging our home repairs to try to increase the quality of life in this neighborhood,” said Hurney. “We are just a piece of the puzzle, and hope to get other partners to help.”

On Saturday, volunteers helped demolish an old greenhouse and cleaned up the landscaping on the Berdon family property.

“God was with us today,” said Alfred Berdon, who farmed the land, plus 100 acres more, for more than 25 years, in addition to building Ali’i Kai boats in Kawaihae.

“We did good things, so good things happen in return, and I believe in that,” he said, “Money can’t buy all this.”

“We are a partner family with Habitat for Hawaii,” said Jay Brewer, Sr., of Kuhio Village, “We were the first recipients of a critical makeover and now it’s time to pay it forward.”

Although the Women’s Build was about 75 percent girl-powered, Brewer worked side by side with his two sons and other able-bodied males like volunteer Clyde Nakashima. Nakashima retired after 20 years with Hawaii County Parks and Recreation Department, and has helped on 10 Habitat for Humanity homes plus their recent Blitz Build.

Among the many volunteers at Saturday’s event were members of the Kukui Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals, Annunciation Church, and the Waimea Wranglers Rough Rollers and Kona Outlaws Roller Girls roller derby teams.

“We want to bring in these strong, beautiful women together, who want to play the game and bring your heart,” said Kona Outlaws “Cheat to Win” Tamara Rittner. Apparently those thoughts applied to the Women’s Demo, too, as opponents rallied for a common cause. Wranglers and Outlaws invite the community to their bouts on Saturday, May 11, at Kekuolani Gym in Kona, and June 8, at the Honokaa Sports Complex. For more information find either team on Facebook or visit http://waimeawranglers.com/. New skaters, 18 years and up, plus referees and non-skating officials are always needed.

At the end of the day, with rain starting in earnest, the sweaty but satisfied demo team had filled three dumpsters, demolished the greenhouse and started building new friendships all around. To share in the next experience, visit www.habitatwesthawaii.org, or call 331-8010.