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Kauai Veterans Museum renovating

LIHUE — The doors of Kauai Veterans Museum are currently closed, but inside volunteers have been busy readying the space for a transformation.

Set in a little showroom inside the Kauai Veterans Center, the museum puts on display the military history of Kauai veterans and tells the story of how local people have contributed to the nation. It holds a variety of artifacts that were all tucked away in June 2019 after a termite infestation in the museum’s wooden display cabinets started causing serious damage.

But volunteers with the Kauai Veterans Museum have been battling those termites for longer than just a few months, according to volunteer Aida Padilla-Cruz.

After multiple failed attempts at ridding the museum of termites, they started fundraising to replace the wooden cabinets and do other renovations in 2009. Over the course of seven years, the museum raised $50,000 through small fundraisers and from individual community donors.

“The first fundraiser, we introduced an astronaut and we also had a line-dancing fundraiser,” said Padilla-Cruz.

Now, all of the artifacts are stowed away for safekeeping and that $50,000 has been spent on new flooring. New glass cabinets are waiting to be installed. The room has been cleared of termites. A fresh coat of paint is on the brick walls.

It’s still a work in progress, with tools lying around and wires hanging from the ceiling. The museum still needs about $40,000 to buy more glass cabinets for housing artifacts, to cover costs of finishing the electrical work in the room, and to supply audio equipment for educational displays. They also need more volunteers to help with renovations. Padilla-Cruz says they’re currently aiming for a summer 2020 grand re-opening of the Kauai Veterans Museum.

Displays at Kauai Veterans Museum currently include exhibits on World War II, the Vietnam War, the Korean Conflict, Women in the Military, Military Intelligence Service and the 100th battalion of the 442 Regiment.

The museum was created to teach the community and students about Kauai’s place in military history, as well as how people connected to Kauai are currently serving the United States. There is a wall inside that specifically honors women who are serving currently and space to honor those who have received medals for their service.

“Our main goal is to (serve) the community, so they can come here to read about history or write about history, especially the students of Kauai,” Padilla-Cruz said.

Alongside coordinating renovations and recruiting volunteers, Padilla-Cruz is working on a new display for the Kauai Veterans Museum, inspired by an Arizona chapter of the Girl Scouts of America.

That GSA chapter operated a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program within their local veterans’ museum, one that Padilla-Cruz saw on a recent Arizona trip. Upon her return to Kauai, she promptly contacted a Girl Scouts leader on Oahu and started working on bringing a similar program to the Kauai Veterans Museum.

Volunteers are needed to help forward that vision and to help finish the upgrades to the Kauai Veterans Museum showcase room. Work opportunities are currently still being scheduled. Contact Kauai Veterans Museum directly for updated volunteer opportunities.

The museum is still accepting artifacts, too.

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Stephanie Shinno, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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