Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Hawaii State Teachers Association help with Aid Station for Big Island Marathon

Click any photo to enlarge.   members of the Hawaii State Teachers Association man an aid station outside the Hilo Airport Nat’l Guard

HSTA was one of many service groups to help with the 2012 Big Island International marathon.    HSTA-Retired also were the ones that handed out your finisher tee shirts.

It took more than 300 volunteers to put on this race.    Read more about our many volunteers:  https://waynejoseph.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/volunteers-make-2912-big-island-marathon-a-huge-success/



March 25, 2012 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , | Leave a comment

Volunteers make 2012 Big Island Marathon a Huge Success

Sunday concluded the 15th running of the Big Island International Marathon and some of Hilo’s best runners were seen on the road, but weren’t entered in the race.

Local speedsters Keoni Ucker, Nick Hagemann, Zach Johnson, James Imai, Alejandra Sanchez, Krista Andrew, Kelly Rogers and Liliana Desmither got an early start on the race, but never crossed the finish line.

The above mentioned group are all members of the University of Hawaii at Hilo cross country men’s and women’s team and they were doing community service which had them on the roads at 1 am.

“We start at 1 in the morning by laying out the 400 state and county cones to clearly mark the course for the runners,” UHH harrier coach Jaime Guerpo said.

Guerpo and his group of runners are some of the more than 300 volunteers that provide the behind the scenes support that makes for a safe marathon, half marathon and 5K event.

“This is our fifth year that we have helped the Big Island Marathon and it is a gratifying experience for us,” Guerpo said.  “I think it just helps our team bonding and says a lot about my athletes and what we hope to contribute.”

Guerpo’s group will also lay out all the ‘runner on the road’ signs, along with other signs that clearly mark the course.

“We put up flashers on barricades to block off roads in order to send cars one way and to keep the runners safe,” Guerpo said.

At 9 am Guerpo and his athletes will do everything in reverse by picking up the cones and barricades and on Monday morning everything gets returned back to the County and State Highways Division.

Waiakea High School, Key Club, under the direction of Kari Sato also had numerous members spread over 26 miles of the course as they provided the needed liquid (water/Gatorade) to participants in an attempt to avoid serious cases of dehydration.

Sato has been assuming the role of providing the supplies necessary to all 13 aid stations over the past several years as a community service project and her job actually starts on Saturday when leaders of each aid station meets with her to  pick up their supplies.

“We see this as a good service project for all involved,” Sato said.  “It allows our Key clubbers to see, first hand a race up close.”

Also playing a key role are the Kiwanis who course marshal the entire 26 miles of the route.

“This project was taken on by our organization to assist and help the economy,” Roy Kagawa sad.  “The cost of hosting this event and welcoming many runners and guest from all over the world, only gains recognition if the community helps.”

Kiwanis have been helping the BIIM for more than 10 years and they took over the course marshalling of the route six years ago, under the direction of Roy Kagawa.

“The entire service project is our way of contributing and we can involve the entire Kiwanis Family in doing service in one day,” Kagawa said.

Kiwanis International sponsors a global organization in which there is a project called “Kiwanis One Day,” according to Kagawa/

“This is a way we can do our One Day contribution to our community,” Kagawa said.

The Kiwanis Family starts with the parent club, Kiwanis Club of East Hawaii, and they will support other various clubs in the BIIM event such as UHH Circle K. in Hilo, Hilo High Key Club, Waiakea High Key Club, Hilo Intermediate Builders Club, Waiakea Intermediate Builders Club, EB deSilva Elementary K-Kids, Hilo Union Elementary BUGS program which all make significant contributions to the success of the BIIM.

At the finish line another group of volunteers are waiting under a tent for the finishers of the marathon.

Dan Renteria, an athletic trainer from Waiakea High School, had assembled a group of high school trainers to volunteer in providing free massages to any marathoner who desired one.

“I began volunteering at the marathon to supplement my internship hours while attending Ki Mana Academy,” Renteria said.  “When I graduated and received my massage therapy license I would then volunteer to help promote my practice, Na Hiku Massage Therapy LLC.”

Locally, Licensed Massage Therapists have been difficult to get as volunteers so Renteria asked his fellow Certified Athletic Trainers if they could help.

“Some of the Athletic Trainers were interested in learning post event massage so I hold workshops and they practice the procedure on anyone walking into the facility door,” Renteria said.  “It’s been very gratifying to know our efforts have been appreciated by the runners and race organizers.”

During the first 10 miles of the race there are five aid stations and all of them are community sponsored and have been providing support to the marathon for 15 years.

Lorraine Mendoza, Susan Munro, May Navarro, G A Rock, are just a few aid station leaders

Clarita Corpuz from Retired Senior Volunteer Program brings RSVP volunteers to make packets for the runners several days before the event, then supplies the necessary manpower for packet pick up the day before the races.

At the race finish line you can see many RSVP workers handing out food and preparing drinks to insure that everyone is healthy and taken care of.

The Hawaii State Teachers active and retired take part in providing an aid station and in the distribution of finisher’s tee shirt.

The list goes on and on of those that came out to selfishly provide the manpower to make an event of this scale take place.

And someday should you happen to see a very grateful race organizer doing a jog around Hilo Bayfront remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

March 19, 2012 Posted by | Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Labor Day Salute to HSTA Retiree, Joe Tanaka

Long time HSTA member Mr. Joe Tanaka

Today is the 129th year that we have been celebrating the first Monday in September as Labor Day.  First established as a holiday on Sept. 5, 1882, Labor Day is devoted to the recognition of working people’s contributions to society in both the U.S. and Canada.

Our roots in the islands come from the struggles of the plantation workers and their connection to the ILWU which for many years worked hard to raise the standard of living for all.

Each year, since I’ve been writing this column, I have selected someone connected to the Labor movement, that is also healthy and fit, to write about.

Today’s featured person is “Joe” Yoshiichi Tanaka who got involved with the Hawaii State Teachers Association during its infancy.

“I began with HSTA’s representation election campaign or “civil war” as I call it, back in 1969,” Tanaka said.

The “civil war” that Tanaka talks about resulted in HSTA becoming the designated and exclusive bargaining agent for teachers and would eventually result in a high standard of living for those professionals.

“I decided, along with many other teachers, to remain involved and help the union ensure that collective bargaining under Chapter 89 became a reality for teachers as well as other public employees,” Tanaka said.

In those early years Tanaka would quickly learn that making collective bargaining legal was one thing and developing and making it work was another.

“Prior to collective bargaining we virtually had no voice in educational matters or issues,” Tanaka said.  “Being unified as a union we would be listened to, gain a measure of respect and provide a meaningful voice in educational policies and practices beyond just wages, hours and conditions of work.”

Tanaka was born and raised on the Big Island and grew up enjoying the ocean and shoreline fishing.  “I have always liked and played sports growing up and into the present, with shoreline fishing being my first love,” Tanaka said.

Growing up in Kona, Tanaka played American Legion and high school baseball and also had a short stint as a walk-on in the college track program at Iowa State Teachers College.  “My college walk-on attempt sooner more than later became a walk-off,” he said with a wide grin.

Following college, graduate work and a stint in the US Air Force Tanaka returned to the Big Island and spent most of his Department of Education career as a counselor at Hilo and Waiakea.  He would also devote most of his life to HSTA becoming involved from the very beginning in many governance posts including being one of the five members of the initial bargaining team.

“About 20 years ago I began an avid fitness program which includes 1.5 hours at a fitness center twice per week which is supplemented with golf, mini workouts at home, fishing (when I can) and work around the yard and garden,” Tanaka said.  “Maybe I can die of old age doing this type of fitness routine.”

Tanaka also stays very active with regular walking, sundry daily stretching, some pushups and the like, and has a good sense of humor to boot.  “I enjoy being reasonably gasa-gasa (active-active), he said.

Along with regular physical exercise Tanaka and his wife, Helen, also eat healthy.  “I don’t like the word diet because of the first three letters,” Tanaka said with a smile.

“The principal benefit of a healthy life style for Helen and I thus far has been 20 years plus of energetic retirement.  Indeed, we are happy and thankful for this and greet each other every morning with a ‘good morning’,” he said.

Tanaka describes his best friend as his wife, Helen, and his “worst friends” as his three golfing buddies who, according to Tanaka “love to rob pension bucks off me regularly.” 

Tanaka continues his involvement with HSTA and other governance roles, as he now serves the retired teachers (HSTA-R) on the Cost of Living Allowance Fairness Committee as its Chairperson. 

“I believe that life is the greatest gift bestowed upon each of us without our asking by a force which I have yet to hear explained or described sensibly,” Tanaka said.  “Each of us has an obligation to live a worthy life, one that does not do harm to another person(s) life, for that is the best way to express gratitude to the ‘force’ that gave us life. And, this includes caring for my body, for without it where would I live?”

Mr. Joe Tanaka, at age 75, is one of the many fine people that have dedicated their lives to the advancement of the labor movement while continuing to maintain a healthy and wholesome lifestyle.

So today, Labor Day, should be a reflection on the many sacrifices made by those before us to achieve the multiple advancements made to society.   Increased health benefits, a living wage, a higher standard of living, job security, I could go on and on, are provided to us by those with vision and courage.

Happy Labor Day!

 “No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this county.  By living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level-I mean the wages of decent living,” Franklin Roosevelt said.

And someday should you happen to see a retired teacher coming jogging through the streets of Hilo remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

September 6, 2010 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wakabayashi Active in Labor Movement

Betty Wakabayashi active HSTA-R

Bettye Wakabayashi active HSTA-R

Hope most of you are enjoying the three day weekend thanks to it being a national holiday, called Labor Day.

    Labor Day was first celebrated on September 5, 1882, under the sponsorship of the Knights of Labor.  The holiday is devoted to the recognition of working people’s contributions to society in both the US and Canada.

    Here in Hawaii our roots in the Labor Day Holiday come primarily from one of our first labor unions, the ILWU, which struggled for many years to raise the standard of living for our plantation workers.

Hawaii's first major union
Hawaii’s first major union

Many of our old time workers can vouch for the positive changes made over the years through the Labor Movement.  One such person is Bettye Wakabayashi of Hilo who had spent a good part of life in the classroom.

    “The first month of my teaching career my principal asked me if I was going to join the union.  I said no, I don’t believe in unions, and her response to me was if the union gets a raise for the teachers, or better benefits, are you going to turn them all down and not accept them?,” Wakabayashi said.

   Needless to say Wakabayashi joined the union and has become actively involved in union affairs ever since.

   Today Wakabayashi is 80 years old and in great physical condition.  As a former Physical Education teacher, Wakabayashi has led an extremely active life and became very conscious of the importance of a healthy diet and exercise for all ages.

   As a girl Wakabayashi grew up playing many sports while riding her bike all over her home town of Sacramento, California until she graduated from high school.  “I played softball, was a lifeguard, rabid snow and water skier, played basketball and badminton as well as many other activities,” she said.

     “I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home where vegetables and fruits were abundant, and I grew up loving them.”

    Being active as a young person and eating well led Wakabayashi to pursue a college degree in physical education while raising her own family.  “My children were both in school, so I decided to go back to college to get my teacher’s degree,” she said.

     Wakabayashi can also remember the early days of teaching when she was required to do much more than teach during the day.  “I can remember the days when we ate lunch in the classroom, everyday, in order to supervise and teach manners to the children.  I also cleaned the classroom, everyday, after the children had gone.”

    “In the early days of teaching there were few benefits and the pay scale was so low that it was difficult to raise a family,” she said.

    Wakabayashi became active in the Hawaii State Teachers Association and participated in two strikes.

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“We have made unbelievable improvements in everything that we have fought for over the years.  There have been improvements in our health benefits, pay scales and classroom controls.  We have fewer children in many of the classrooms and the list goes on and on,” she said.

   Wakabayashi has served in every capacity of officer that a teacher could serve, and also served on the HSTA Executive Board since she arrived in Hawaii.

    And there is no slowing down this octogenarian as she continues her active involvement in the community.  Last year she went to Washington D.C. as the HSTA-Retired representative to the National Education Association Convention.

  Wakabayashi is also active in the HSTA-R (retired) Hawaii Chapter, an active member in the Vireya Club (Tropical Rhododendrons) and remains active in the Hawaii Island Humane Society and the Blood Bank of Hawaii.

    “There are so many interesting things to be done in an organization of people that you enjoy being with and when one doesn’t have a lot of money, helping out in causes you love gives you a chance to help that cause without spending anything, except your time and effort.”

    Wakabayashi also believes that you need to remain active and vigilant in order to protect the rights and benefits that you now have.  “Being a retired teacher I am aware of the power the State has to take away the benefits that we have been given and I will stay active until nothing we have earned, nor what the teachers of today are earning, is in jeopardy,” she said.

   To stay in shape Wakabayashi, who lives in a two story house, walks up and down her steps at least a dozen times per day.  “I will also park as far away from the store and under the shadiest tree,” she said.

   Once per week she will attend a hydrotherapy maintenance session at the Hilo pool to take care of some of the aches and pains associated with aging.  “I have Arthritis in my spine, knees, hips, shoulders, and hands and the water therapy runs me through a series of exercises in a pool, that are much gentler on my body,” she said.

  I admire Betty Wakabayashi for her role in helping fellow teachers receive and protect the benefits they now have and also for her positive attitude towards living a healthy lifestyle. 

  At 80 years young Wakabayashi continues to give back to our community and is one of the many thousands of hard working people in Hawaii that deserve having a holiday set aside in their honor.

   Happy Labor Day everyone!

September 7, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Profiles | , , , , | Leave a comment