hawaiian electric keeps maui's highways clean

Lynn Shizumura
August 11, 2020

Picking up cigarette butts from the side of the road may not sound like an ideal Saturday. But for Hawaiian Electric – Maui County employees, it’s a great way to keep their island clean and give back to the community. 

Earlier this year, the Hawaii Department of Transportation recognized the company for their dedication to the state’s Adopt-A-Highway program. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the company would mobilize 20 to 70 volunteers, which included employees and their families and friends, to pick up trash along Puunene Avenue in Kahului. The company held about four volunteer days a year.  

Hawaiian Electric employees clear the side of the road on a volunteer day.

According to Mayo Clinic, volunteering has several health benefits. Giving your time to a cause can: 

  • Decrease the risk of depression.
  • Cultivate a sense of purpose and teach valuable skills.
  • Promote physical and mental activity. 
  • Reduce stress.
  • Help you meet new people and strengthen relationships.

Mike Ito is a senior product manager at Hawaiian Electric – Maui County. He grew up on Maui and enjoys volunteering with the Adopt-A-Highway program. Ito has three children and plans to take them to future projects when they get a little older. He wants to show them that volunteering has a positive impact. 

“It’s nice to be able to make a visible difference in the community. We get shown a lot of appreciation by bypassing drivers who either give us a honk or a thank you out their window, which reinforces the difference we’re making,” he says.

Ito (right) at the Adopt-A-Highway project. 

Anna Arase is a director of finance and business planning at Hawaiian Electric – Maui County. She’s worked for the company for 17 years and volunteers with the Adopt-A-Highway program as much as she can.

Arase is a former leader for 4-H, the youth development organization that empowers youth through hands-on projects and activities. Her family and 4-H volunteers have joined her on Adopt-A-Highway days. 

Arase (left) and fellow volunteers.

“Highway cleanup provides an opportunity for us and our employees to give back to the community and take care of the place we call home,” she says.

Photos courtesy of Hawaiian Electric – Maui County.

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