PNAH in the Community


A 10k Race with Na Wahine:
A PNAH Community Outreach Service
BY: Divina Telan Robillard

The cloak of night has yet to lift and the neighborhoods, to rouse. It was still and quiet in the city streets, the freeway empty as a cold, cold heart. Early on March 19, a Sunday morning, exceptionally thoughtful nurses in three cars from three different points on the island traversed the byways going east, where the Hawaii Pacific Health Na Wahine 10k Run/Walk was going to wind around, 5 miles from where it starts downhill at Kapiolani Park in Waikiki.

Tessie Oculto, Chair of the PNA of Hawaii Community Outreach Committee, woke up even earlier than her other companion nurses. She gathered together elements of the ham and cheese croissanwiches she was going to pass around to her co-volunteers at the First Aid Station in Triangle Park on Kilauea Avenue. Edna Higa would pick her up and drive them to the spot.

Marianela and husband, Joe Jacob, arrived earliest. Not very familiar with the neighborhood, they parked where other cars were on the street. Nela called me on the phone to confirm that they were indeed in the right place. As I turned around one corner of the park, I spied a Uhaul-like truck maneuvering as a man guided the driver to a spot by the sidewalk. It was 5:30AM; daylight was still a good half-hour away. A few minutes after, I followed the Jacobs’s tire tracks just a few spaces away from where they were. Nela and I had been talking on the phone. As soon as I turned off my engine, Nela was at my window, pointing out to me her car which was second from the corner. Joe was still in the driver’s trying to catch at the edges of sleep. Not many minutes after, Edna’s sunshine-and-chicharon-crackly voice animated a sufficient radius of atoms around her and everything it touched. It was time for us to walk to the corner where there were two more men on the sidewalk, seemingly unloading sacks, buckets, boxes, and other equipment. We figured they were the race people.

Steve the Site Supervisor said we could help unload and positions tables along the median of Kahala Avenue. There were about a dozen large coolers that needed to be filled with ice, water or Gatorade from gallon-size plastic bottles, paper cups to fill halfway, and array on the tables.
We proceeded to assemble a half-dozen tables and got to work on filling up the coolers, while Steve and others set up the FA tent and put signage, cones, and other race accoutrements up. Chairs and more tables were set up under the FA tent. Joe checked on the contents of two large plastic containers of FA stuff. Meanwhile, Tessie was making croissanwiches and putting out pastries on one table. Steve paused long enough to give us our volunteer T-shirts. There was still no daylight so, peering guardedly around for Peeping Tom eyes, we giggled as we “French-dressed” in semi-darkness, with only the mute street lights providing faint glow.

Being in the east side of the island meant that daylight shone on us first before breaking out on the rest of Honolulu. We were too busy with our tasks to notice that Night and Day had already changed places in the sky. As Day established itself, about six UH School of Medicine freshmen appeared to join our team. After brief introductions, which the irrepressible Edna took as her prerogative, we waited for the first runner to come up.

Soon, the motorcycle cop led a young lady who was following with a clearly determined face and a purposeful stride. She was aware that we all looked at her with awe and a little bit of envy. A couple minutes after, another one followed her and then a couple more. There was a small group of runners after. Each one was offered a paper cup of Gatorade/water which they picked up smoothly from a volunteer’s hand without breaking their stride, intent on keeping their running time unbroken. When the groups started coming in bunches with no break between them, that’s when the task of filling up and passing the cup on became more frenetic.

The runners who picked up the cups smiled or said “Thank you!”, to those of us on the sidelines who cheered and gave them cups. Some of them acknowledged our having to get up early like they did to be at our station. That gave us an awesome “aw, shucks: blush, blush” feeling. When a great number of wahines wa massing on our station, the first few leaders were already coming back through, having rounded the halfway mark. Thus, the demand on the other end of our hydration station started to pick up. It was a thrilling sight, watching young and not-so-young wahines going by, sweaty, red-faced, but smiling – clearly happy to have achieved something they wanted. Some faces we knew and some hugs were exchanged along with high fives and congratulatory wishes. When we had given out our last paper cup, and the running traffic trickled to none for a significant amount of time, Steve announced it was time to pack up and so we did

Fortunately, no one needed FA. Steve was actually the only person who asked for a cold compress. He took a short break from his prep activities for a few minutes on the massage table, right hip abducted. We didn’t have a state-of-the art ice compress for his flank but we did McGyver a latex glove filled with ice from the bucket and wrapped in bandage. Someone also asked for an Ibuprofen, which unfortunately, was not in our stash.

When the trucks were all locked up and driven away, Tessie invited us for breakfast. So off we went in our separate cars to Kahala Hotel at the end of the road to dine along with the hotel guests at their Plumeria Beachhouse. We had a hearty breakfast peppered with lots of laughter and talk. Recognizing our volunteer work that morning through our T-shirts, our waitress complimented us with slices of yummy, rainbow-colored chiffon rolls.

Participating in these early morning volunteer events is fun to do! You make new acquaintances, get stirred by the excitement of the event, receive acknowledgement from grateful clients and knowing that you’ve done your community a service. Losing a couple hours of sleep just means feeling exceptionally good all day.

Last February, this indefatigable Committee assisted in the successful celebration of the Annual Great Aloha Run. A larger team of volunteers helped distribute race packets to GAR participants the weekend before the race. Not only do eminent races such as the GAR and the HPH Na Wahine provide intangible feel-good rewards, they often thank their volunteers with free T-shirts and wholesome snack/meal.

Next time you hear of a call for volunteers, sign up! It’s a win-win proposition!