Kauai Concert Honors Volunteers

LIHUE, Kauai (KHNL) -- They're the people who do the dirty work, and are never paid or recognized for it -- until now.

Hundreds of volunteers on Kauai were honored for their work Sunday night, with a free concert, called "Puuwai Aloha -- a giving heart."

"It's just our way of giving back a little bit for so much we owe to all these people," said Kauai Mayor Bryan Baptiste, who planned the event.

The concert was by invitation only -- and filled the field at Vindinha Stadium in Lihue.

Top Hawaii artists like Raiatea Helm, Robi Kahakalau, the Makaha Sons, and comedian Andy Bumatai entertained the crowd.

Baptiste says the volunteers make Kauai what it is: a strong island community with a culture of compassion.

"It's a great event that ties together all the people who volunteer for different things on this island," said David Helder, who does work for historic preservation of buildings and landmarks.

The volunteers ranged from those who helped with search and rescue efforts from the Ka Loko Dam break in March, clean up crews during the recent heavy rains, to those who do community service, helping the elderly, and building playgrounds.

"We have a lot of kids in our community and we have five children of our own, and we want the kids to have a safe place to play," said Cindy Garcia, who volunteers by building playgrounds in her community.

Baptiste says he's been planning the event since last fall.

He says this is a "first of its kind" concert, and hopes it's not the last.

"We seldom get the time to say thank you for everything they do," said Baptiste.

"Whether they teaching children, or cleaning the roadside or tutoring kids or working on antidrug programs, there's never enough time to say thank you."

More than 20 sponsors helped fund the event. It was scheduled for Sunday night, to kick off National Volunteer Week.