Hilo native Leilehua Robinson, better known in downtown Hilo as “Aunty Lei”, does something extraordinary every Sunday. She beautifies the communities in her immediate area with a radius spanning from Wainaku to Kapiolani Street, including Bayfront- a quest that she has partaken in since August of last year.
Great preparation goes into her beautification Sundays, which starts with a post on her personal Facebook profile and the Hilo Happenings Facebook group page, enlisting volunteers and providing a date and time to meet. Aunty Lei then gathers the supplies that she will need for the effort, some garbage bags, gloves and of course, masks. Clean ups are usually 1-2 hours and anywhere from 2-5 people come out to help. She sometimes gets an early head start and then gathers whoever comes to the meeting spot to continue picking up trash and cleaning up the streets. With the kokua of those assisting her, she ensures that the trash bags are disposed of by truck or the nearest bin.
Aunty Lei mentioned that the kind of trash she and her small team comes across is daunting and poses a safety and sanitary hazard for people in the community, especially children and the elderly. Drug paraphernalia and exposed hypodermic needles are some of the items that she comes across and is highly disappointed about the lack of care and regard for the people who frequent the areas.
She says that people in the community are often grateful for her and the team, sometimes providing all with fruit, snacks, and water to help with staying hydrated and showing their appreciation. Others have donated gloves and trash bags to the team- donations that would otherwise come directly from Aunty Lei’s own pocket as a personal expense.
When asked about what motivates her to continue every Sunday and she says, “Town needs to be sanitized, because it’s so dirty. It is a teaching process and a waste of time grumbling about it. I’m a problem solver and if I see a problem, I’m going to do my best to resolve it.” Aunty Lei stresses the importance of always thinking of safety and common sense, maintaining positivity, and setting an example. “The beautification provides good energy, it’s positive and I hope to set an example. Loving your community, community is ohana. To me, ohana is important and we need to take care of each other.”
Mahalo Nui Aunty Lei and the community team for your efforts in making Downtown Hilo beautiful, you are genuinely appreciated!! If you would like to donate time or supplies to Aunty Lei’s Beautification Sundays, please contact her directly through her Facebook profile Leilehua Robinson | Facebook or on the Hilo Happenings | Facebook group page.