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Life’s Bridges and volunteers celebrate 16th anniversary

WAILUA — Life’s Bridges was pressed into action on Friday afternoon, March 1, following a water incident that claimed the life of a Colorado visitor.

The response to the situation was handled through the Bridges Emergency Support Team (B.E.S.T.) arm of the organization whose mission is “bereavement care is the foundation of our programs, and is offered through one-on-one support, family support or through community referrals.

The B.E.S.T. volunteers are trained to meet the specific needs of families in crisis by assisting with practical and logistical needs while providing essential emotional support. These volunteers are, on notification of a sudden, traumatic or accidental death on Kaua‘i, dispatched through the coordinated efforts of the Kaua‘i Police Department, Kaua‘i Fire Department, Kaua‘i Veterans Memorial Hospital, Mahelona and Wilcox hospitals.

This description from the Life’s Bridges website set the stage for Sunday when its supporters celebrated the 16th anniversary of the program during a special benefit luncheon at Smith’s Tropical Paradise.

Kumu Hual Leina‘ala Pavao Jardin and Halau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala, recently receiving confirmation of the Kalaheo-based halau’s return to this year’s Merrie Monarch Hula Festival that takes place in early April, were special guests at the luncheon.

Kumu Leina‘ala pointed out how her family, and that of the halau, were beneficiaries of the Life’s Bridges support and care.

In return, Kumu Hula Leina‘ala, who also is a member of the Life’s Bridges board of directors, arranged select hula numbers that demonstrated the care and services offered by Gina Kaulukukui, the head of Life’s Bridges, and its team of volunteers.

In addition to bereavement care, Life’s Bridges states community outreach and education is an important component of its services.

“We strive to educate the community on death, the powers of grief, and the healing process,” the website states. “Life’s Bridges understands the impact that a suicide death has on our community.

We have taken on an active role in suicide prevention by offering workshops and speaking engagements in an effort to create a suicide-free community.”

Life’s Bridges was instrumental in forming the Prevent Suicide Kaua‘i Task Force and continues to support its efforts. Additionally, among the menu of Life’s Bridges’ reach is the Good Grief Club, which is a school-based peer support group that meets the needs of grieving children.

Kaua‘i Leaders Against Suicide, known in the community as KLAS, was started as the first-ever teen education and peer support leadership group to meet the needs of teens at risk. KLAS is a group of dedicated youths who are committed to training their peers to recognize those at risk for suicide and where to turn for help.

During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, when suicide rates were climbing, Life’s Bridges hosted an ‘ukulele drive with the goal of providing quality instruments to graduating high school seniors who were isolated from celebrating the traditional graduation festivities.
Source: The Garden Island

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