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Rooted in Wellness

Molokai returned to its roots July 5 as moms and their supporters empowered the community to live healthy lifestyles. Keiki made recycled art while moms prepared local organic food. Performers sung along to the spirit of the evening as families and organizers shared how they love the land. Besides being a night of fun and aloha, the Grassroots Benefit Concert aimed to provide a path for youth to one day be restorers of health.

“The spirit behind [the event] is to promote an awareness of health and wellness on the island and be able to offer the upcoming generation support,” said Ehulani Kane, a member of the Mom Hui, the group that organized the event. This support comes through education and outreach, as well as proceeds raised from the event that will fund a scholarship for 2014 Molokai High School graduates pursuing a degree in health, environmental studies or organic farming.

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Molokai moms prepare local food with chef Gene Pike at the Grassroots Benefit Concert. Photo by Emily Sumners

“The idea is that this is the community’s money that goes into this scholarship as opposed to corporate money,” Kane explained.

The Hui brought in performers and vendors from across Hawaii, including a slam poet, various bands, and environmentally conscious artists. Artist Sahra Indio came from Hawaii Island to do recycled art with keiki, helping them create bag dolls while explaining concepts of recycling.

“What I like to say about packing paper and paper bags is that they’re strong because they come from trees,” Indio said to the group of girls gathered around her. “We owe it to the trees to reuse and make art.”

The event also featured locals like a debut of the Molokai keiki band “Jus Cuz,” food samples and recipes from Chef Gene Pike who champions eating local, and Hui moms showing families how they can take steps toward wellness.

“I’m here to show the kids how easy it is to plant vegetables,” said Molokai mom Alisha Montemayor as she used recycled milk cartons to make simple container gardens. “I’m also showing what to do with food you don’t eat, like recyclables and stuff you want to get rid of.”

The Mom Hui came up with the idea for the benefit concert after group organizer Mercy Ritte became inspired to create the scholarship. Two months later, the Grassroots Benefit Concert hit the baseball park in Kaunakakai. Organizers said it was the first of an annual tradition.

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Ikaia Felsinger, 11, Ikaika Bacoy, 12, and Kaohu Felsinger sell watermelons at the Grassroots Benefit Concert. Photo by Emily Sumners

“We’re trying to create an environment that feels safe, where we are giving something people will receive,” said Kane. “Artistically your heart opens when there’s good music, and you will be able to receive the good food and receive the good of the community that helped make it happen.”

But organizing a multi-performer, family friendly concert was no easy task. But when it came down to it, community members came together to support moms aiming to bring health to Molokai.

“It took perseverance, a belief we can pull it off and the generosity of the community,” Kane said. “It’s been a core group of women who hustled and bustled around, but we couldn’t have done it without the community.”


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