Saturday, February 17: by 9 am several hundred people had gathered at the Homestead meeting house, ready to march through homestead and show the strength of the movement. Families, the kids excited and ready to go, and adults, some holding signs. Most were wearing forest green T-shirts with N.O.P.E. to Dope on the back. The media was there, setting up their video cameras. State Representative Eve Anderson was there, along with David Stegmaier, Representative of Hawaii Kai. Neighborhood board member Al Lewis was ready to march.
The march began up Nakini Street. Kids carried the banner leading the march. Near the front was Nani Akeo, the woman who started it all with the first N.O.P.E. sign. Gordon and Helene Mattos, who had kept the meetings and preparations organized, also kept the march organized.
Nani Akeo said, " Awesome! It's working. The love is here--I can feel it. Since Christmas we started. We love our neighbors and our children." A neighbor said, "I like it. Finally we show we don't want drugs on our streets. We have too many babies on our streets."
Charles Naumu, vice principal of Waimanalo School, said, "Good! We're heading for the houses where the trafficking is. At the school we've had one case of marijuana use. The entry level for tobacco use is lowering."
Representative David Stegmaier said, "I hope this will trigger the same kind of community initiative in all our communities. There are times when there are drug activities that take place out in the open. Whether it's open or hidden, we need to stop it. There's a clear connection between drug use and crime. We have legislation before us that would have the Departments of Education, Health, and Human Services be responsible to intervene with those students who have a problem, and to work together to deal with it as a health problem--to help rid the schools of drugs. Treating abuse as a health problem and getting people into treatment--the younger and the earlier the better."
"Our objective of being visible, united, and to educate is being accomplished," said Peter Kama. "We want to educate those that are here and those that are not."
The march ended at Waimanalo Beach Park. The park pavilion was set up for a program of speakers and entertainment organized by Joseph Espinda.
"This is a major problem we have with drugs," said Representative Eve Anderson. "But we have to call out to our little ones to never let them try drugs. When they ask you to try something--say `No' to them. Don't even try them. They're not your friends if they offer you drugs. That's why they take your bike, your TV--to get money to pay for drugs. We have to educate, to show people a better way. I'd like to see programs on Saturdays, take our kids on hikes--up to the ridge--have lunch, or canoeing, fun activities for the kids."
Dr. Cecilia Alailima of the Waimanalo Health Center spoke: "The message we want to get out today is that we care... we want them to know we care. At the Health Center we are there to help our people. If you know there are people out there who use drugs--even drugs that we prescribe that are being used in the wrong way--please contact us if you see drugs being abused."
Jocyln, a resident of Ho'omau Ke Ola--Hawaii Addiction Center, spoke of her recovery from drug abuse. "Today I thank God I got some sanity back--to make a change. I was hurting the ones who love me the most--all for drugs. I never took the time before for my own family. Right here is a community program--and we need a program in every community. A lot of our families need help."
Helene Mattos thanked people for coming out, and Representative Anderson and Councilmember John Henry Felix for providing the banners. Gordon Mattos said: " Taking back our neighborhood means to step out in love for people who are hurting. It starts within me, within us. It doesn't mean we agree on everything. It lies in our hands. `What can I do to make a difference?' Cause one person can make a difference."