August 4, 2017

A delicate breeze. A glistening ocean. A beaming sun.

To most Americans, this is our picture of Hawaii. What we don’t picture is all the effort by its residents to keep the islands as beautiful as we imagine they are. But as inhabitants and stewards, it is clear to local Hawaiians that a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle is the best for the islands and future generations of residents.

Christina Finley, Platoon Leader for the Honolulu 1st Service Platoon is on a mission to protect Hawaii’s water. Luckily, she’s not alone — other organizations like Plastic Free Hawaii, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, and Clean Water Hawaii all share the same vision. Meeting with them, as she said, inspired her “to help with all that they do to protect the waters of Hawaii. My vision is to lend a helping hand with these projects and assist in the solution of these problems.”

Christina explains some of the projects the platoon has done so far. “Storm water collects on our streets and is carried to drains that flow directly into the ocean.” Innovative designs like “LID’s (low impact development) flush this storm water through filtering layers: plants, amended soil, pebbles, drainage systems, and rock to remove pollutants like trash, pesticides, and metals.” The more LID’s that operate, the more clean water gets fed back into the ecosystem. The platoon installed some LID’s called “stealth rain gardens” at their Catch the Rain event in early May.

Platoon Leader Christina Finley with government officials interested in sustainability and water quality.

Because Hawaii is a set of islands, being surrounded by the Pacific Ocean is something you don’t easily forget. While life on mainland U.S. has rivers, lakes, and coastlines, pollution in Hawaii is far more visible. Because of Hawaii’s geography, Christina said, “I believe the clean water initiative is exciting because you can actually see the impact as it occurs.” Residents are keenly aware that “it is vital we all pitch in to protect this precious resource.”

The impact was meaningful not just for the ecosystem, but for its people too. Christina said, “Every event we begin and end here gives us a positive experience and new knowledge of the local island culture with a diverse base of participants: veterans, active duty soldiers, and civilian community members.” This mix of passionate, mission-driven volunteers, in Christina’s experience, “creates a feeling of fulfillment and sense of purpose.”

Doug Pfeffer, the City Impact Manager for Honolulu explains further that, “The veteran population in Hawaii is very close and tight-lint. Upon arrival, we immediately reached out to other veteran service organizations to form a Veterans Service Organization Coalition, focused on sharing events and opportunities.” While our operations in Honolulu are still forming, “This community-building initiative has yielded amazing results. It is really through the efforts of our Platoon Leader that we’ve made so much progress.”

The Catch the Rain event took place in the community where we are expanding our impact for youth to include mentorship and increased educational resources. With the help of dedicated platoon members, we hope the operation will be in full bloom by summer’s end!


Report for duty in your community with The Mission Continues. Serve with a Service Platoon at an upcoming service event near you or apply for a fellowship. You can learn more about our programs on our website and stay updated on the latest news and announcements on Facebook and Twitter.