Protecting our organizations. Protecting our Volunteers.

by Kinohi Pizarro, Lohe Pono Fellow

Safety- the condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk or injury.

You’ve all heard it said before and some of you have experienced working in places that have been a great example of the infamous line “safety first!” It couldnʻt be more true and it cannot be enforced enough.  Many of us know the feeling of a personal injury or have witnessed an injury at our worksite. If you know, then you know how uneasy, uncomfortable and traumatizing it can sometimes be. Days after you are recounting your experience, rethinking what could have been done to avoid the situation, and most of the time you are extremely intentional and safe for a period of time until rules become more relaxed or maybe the last excruciating memory has been forgotten.  As I have said in my blog entry before ʻāina and our environment will be our best reminders of how prepared we are or how ill prepared we may be at any given moment.

With Covid-19 in play for the last year and as it continues to affect our communities despite all of the government recommendations and restrictions, we really have to dial in our safety on another level.  The last thing we want to do is spread this virus to our loved ones or to the loved ones in our network.  We must still be vigilant, aware, and stay informed of our current situation and try to be as safe as we possibly can be.  With these thoughts, sentiments, lived experiences, and regards KUA embarked on a workshop series to address safety in many different aspects of the word.

We held a series of four workshops that were led by our friends, Ron and Gwen Klapperich of Klapperich International Training Associates LLC and Vince Abramo as well as Cheri Kishimoto of a non-profit organization called Hands in Helping Out (HIHO). From this series of workshops our networks were offered to learn a great spectrum of information about safety. So much was shared between our participants and our safety workshop leadership.

Our first workshop was geared towards safety at an executive level standpoint, touching on topics such as insurance protection, CDC guidelines, keeping employees safe by maintaining a safe workspace, and different types of liabilities. The second workshop dove more into the safety of our employees, volunteers, setting clear boundaries, and even went through a few case studies where our participants got to talk through what they would do to mitigate safety risks.  The third workshop we did an activity where we dreamed up our next KUA gathering and how we would handle situations like the food tent, transportation, workdays, school groups and kūpuna. We all canʻt wait! We then broke out into groups to put work into our actual safety plans/protocols.  Last of the workshops were our offered office hours with Ron, Gwen, Cheri, Vince and some of our KUA staff to go through and address any kinds of questions or next steps for their individualized safety plans. What a whirlwind of well-being that was jam-packed in two weeks!

As any other gathering, virtual or in person, we all hope that our network took home a few gems, shared with others in their organization, walked away more aware, felt more confident in what they were already doing, and had fun.  It was a fun few weeks of connection. We are looking forward to more gatherings in which safety, health, and awareness is weaved into the protocol of our beings and us creating safe spaces for others in every way.

There are so many fun ways to make people more aware of the importance of safety.  My go to while working at Paepae o Heʻeia was to count the individuals in a pule circle, then multiply that number by 20.  I would then pule and announce my hopes that they would all go home with all their “x number” of fingers and toes. Use it. If it makes them rethink a few steps in their day it worked.  Let us all remember to evaluate, educate and enforce safety in our precious wahi pana! Mahalo.


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