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The Kokua Initiative Turns One: Stewardship At The Summit

Waiakea's Kokua Initiative is officially one year old! To celebrate 365 days of lending a helping hand in our community, we decided to bring it back full circle to where it all started–Stewardship At The Summit. 

In case you're new here (Aloha! 👋), The Kokua Initiative is Waiakea's landmark program for investing in local community projects and non-profits. The Kokua Initiative focuses primarily on education, addiction, and environmental stewardship here in Hawai'i. Waiakea is the first beverage company in Hawai’i to fully compensate each employee to volunteer at least 8 hours of their time, every month, for a variety of local organizations. From cleaning up invasive species at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park to making mulch out of coconut husks for community veggie gardens, the Waiakea team is excited to serve our community well into the future. 

"I love it, its awesome. Glad to help eradicate this invasive plant and be a part in giving our Native forest a chance to make a healthy comeback." -Jay, Waiakea team

To ring in the new year and the first birthday of The Kokua Initiative, the team revisited Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park where it all started for Stewardship At The Summit. Stewardship At The Summit is a project designed to help the 'aina, where volunteers help restore the native rainforest by removing invasive Himalayan ginger from the understory. Himalayan ginger, a.k.a. Hedychium gardnerianum, is a yellow-flowered ginger that covers Hawaiian rainforests and is native to the Himalayan foothills. There, it evolved and supports various Himalayan native species. However, in Hawaii, it grows fast and paves its way through the rainforest. You may be wondering how that's even harmful... it's part of nature, right? As it turns out, it displaces native vegetation layers, limits the growth of canopy trees, and their massive roots use a majority of water resources. In turn, it hurts the health of native Hawaiian flowers and other rainforest plants1. Removing this invasive species from the rainforest helps bring back different native species like birds or insects that wouldn't be there otherwise–once removed, native plants have room to thrive!

"We kokua the forest, we help the forest. We also malama the forest. We take care of it." -Paul Field, founder of Stewardship At The Summit