Hundreds of volunteers bring Labor of Love to Hawaii Island school

Chiefess Kapiolani Elementary School upgrades courtesy Hawaii State AFL-CIO

Hawaii State Teachers Association and HSTA-R members were among more than 200 volunteers from 18 unions, eight businesses as well as other community organizations, parents, students, teachers, staff and community volunteers, all working together in Hilo Saturday to improve Chiefess Kapiolani Elementary School.

Their efforts were part of the Hawaii State AFL-CIO’s Labor Community Services Program's Labor of Love project, which supports a different Hawaii Department of Education school each year.

When students returned to school Monday, they found new carpet in the library, 40 new bulletin boards, and fresh paint in the bathrooms, parking lots and other portions of the campus. Four new basketball systems will also be installed soon.

"There's a variety of emotions," said Gregg Yonemori, Chiefess Kapiolani Elementary School principal. "At first, we were in disbelief. We couldn't understand the magnitude of this project and why it would be coming to our school. After it sunk in, we really felt fortunate and appreciative to have this happen to our school."

“We have a lot of talent and much heart in the labor community. Our union brothers and sisters take pride in helping our communities,” said Hawaii AFL-CIO President Randy Perreira. “This is a much-needed event and we are happy to lend our resources to help.”

In addition to campus improvements, the Labor of Love project will donate funds to the school’s academic and achievement program to help students strive to reach their highest potential. A mahalo celebration will take place Friday.

"This Labor of Love project is going to have a huge impact at our school. It will really raise the pride in our school," Yonemori said. "This demonstrates what we want our students to be, and it'll be a really good learning experience for them."

The estimated total value of donations and in-kind contributions to the project for Chiefess Kapiolani Elementary School is $64,500.