A Touch of Hawaii for Veterans
Dancer Kōnane Solive a member of Ka Pa Hula O Ha’aheo, performing a story in dance to the music of Nativ Sun. Photo courtesy of Ryan Grant
Luau dancers Hau’oli Pangilinan (left) and Malie Bravo (right). Photo courtesy of Ryan Grant
CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - The entire evening was truly one of ‘Ohana’ or ‘family” for the 100 guests, plus volunteers and entertainers at the Veterans Community Center the evening of August 28. Months of planning and preparation with great attention to detail went into every aspect of the evening to be sure each guest felt a warm Hawaiian breeze and all that goes along with the traditional hula celebration. All the work that went into the event was evident from the moment guests entered the outdoor area set up behind the old Sylvan School House. No tropical leaves were left unturned, creating a true sense of family for the event.
The evening opened with the Presentation of Colors by local Scout Troop 215, Pledge of Allegiance, and the National Anthem sung by Daniel Grant. A prayer was offered by Pastor Brad Gunter.
A Hawaiian BBQ buffet with side dishes, dessert and elegant flavored water set the tone for the entertainment which lasted into the evening. For the second year (since 2019) entertainment was provided by the music of ‘Nativ Sun’ accompanied by traditional Hawaiian dancing by Ka Pa Hula Kalama O Ha’aheo based out of Davis. Several guest dancers heard about the event and came from around the area to participate. As the dancers performed, Marc Asuncion gave a short lesson on the art of hula for a better appreciation of its beauty. As is custom, members of the audience joined in for a couple of quick hula lessons throughout the evening, to the delight of the audience.
The tempo picked up later in the evening as a Tahitian dance element was added with heavy drumming and faster dancing. “A good time was had by all” or “manawa maika’i” was an understatement.
Two Citrus Heights Councilmembers-at-large, Vice Mayor Tim Schaefer, and former Mayor Steve Miller, along City Manager Ash Feeney mingled with guests. Feeney said of the event in an email: It was “great entertainment, great food, great people, great time, even greater cause. In addition to camaraderie, the Veterans Community Center helps connect veterans with important services and benefits that they are entitled to through their service.”
A silent auction with two dozen fancy baskets made for getting a good deal or early Christmas shopping.
The Luau is the main fundraiser for the year. All proceeds go to helping provide a free “Safe Room” for all military veterans who visit. These events also honor the memory and vision of co-owner Jim Rounsavell who with his wife Jean founded the center in 2013.
One thing that made this event possible for many was the free shuttle service from City Hall and back offered by Veteran Larry Prater owner of Airport Transportation serving Carmichael, Fair Oaks and Citrus Heights.
Michelle Grant, Community Relations for the Center who spearheaded the event, said in an email, “What a wonderful opportunity for each of us who participated in our luau event. Everyone involved volunteered their time and talents, and together we proudly celebrated the men and women of uniform, our American military heroes. Together we truly are one ‘ohana’ with the same purpose, to serve those who have dutifully served us!”
She wanted to especially recognize a hard working 8-year-old guest who came with his parents. He wanted to help so much he helped clean up the tables. He kept saying, “I’m serving veterans.” This is the true meaning of ‘ohana.’
One special act of ‘ohana’; by one young guest, 8-year-old Pria Roache, most likely went unnoticed by many. Pria came with his mom Jessica Dale, and family. After the meal Pria wanted so much to be of service he cleared off tables and helped haul off the trash saying, “I’m serving veterans.” A true volunteer and future leader.
For more information on next year’s luau contact veteranscommunity centerch.com