Editor’s Note: A few days ago I met with Chaminade student Fawn Liebengood, one of the founders of 808 Cleanups. I was very impressed with her attitude towards public service and the good works that this org is involved in.
We are lucky to live in Hawaiʻi. We have a lot to be thankful for, whether it is in the beauty of nature or in the kindness and generosity of the culture. However, not everything is perfect here. Two years ago, we began noticing an increase in natural surface graffiti tagging, littering, and pallet bonfires, which can leave nails in the sand. Many would just look and say “what a shame”, or maybe post about it on social media. We saw an opportunity to create a support network for volunteers to tackle these problems. We created 808 Cleanups to stand up, take action, and make Hawaiʻi cleaner, safer and stronger.
How did we design our new group in 2014 that eventually became a 501(c) (3) non-profit in May 2015? By putting volunteers in the pilot seat. So many people in Hawaiʻi have been taking action on litter and tagging on their own for years or even decades. Still more want to get started, but just didn’t know how to begin. We know it is a big step to ignite that enthusiasm and get people engaged in a cause. How often have we told ourselves “someone else will handle it”? 808 Cleanups volunteers are those “someones” and we support them by providing supplies, connecting them with other volunteers and helping them organize their own cleanups.
In 2016’s first quarter alone, the effects in the field have been impressive: 363 individual cleanups. 1298 volunteer participants. 16,950 lbs. of trash removed from Mauka to Makai. 333 graffiti tags removed from natural and manmade surfaces. 1482 lbs. of marine debris removed.
Through our website and social media outlets, we provide multiple resources to volunteers, many of whom thought they were alone in the fight for stewardship of our beautiful islands. Imagine sending out a call for help to clean up an illegal dumpsite, and within 24 hours, you get extra hands to assist in getting the job done. That is a reality in our group. You can adopt a site and clean it weekly or monthly. Using our resources, you can get the supplies you need as well as get the word out so you consistently have volunteers help you every cleanup!
Our mission is to support every individual, every group, non-profit, school, church, club, public and private entity who needs it. We may have different background stories and interests, but we unite under the common cause of a cleaner, safer and stronger Hawaiʻi. Not just that, but in due course as we make clean sites the norm again, we can refocus to restoring parks infrastructure, native plants, sacred and historical sites. We can provide expanded services to stand against vandalism of public and private property. We can beautify and restore our communities in a way that reflects what the people want. We can create a new generation of leaders who see stewardship as a natural way of life—securing the hard work of current efforts.
Stewardship is a process that must not falter; for not all the beauty we appreciate in Hawaiʻi occurred by accident. It is a constant battle against destructive and careless forces, where enthusiasm is easily lost to sloth, setbacks and apathy. To sustain the fire of volunteerism, we created 808 Cleanups to be that “seven days a week” support network. We want to build leaders, to lend a hand whenever needed, to empower, and most importantly, to get things done. Let us take positive action together. We warmly invite you to join our volunteer alliance at 808 Cleanups.