While trotting to Ewa Beach Elementary School in the crisp morning, a little boy in a dandelion-yellow shirt aims and kicks a rock into the street so it lands in one of the many potholes that litter Papipi Road.
“Hi aunty!” he says as he scuttles past Ulu who stands near the Ewa Beach Elementary crosswalk as always.
“Good morning,” she says with a warm smile almost as bright as the crossing vest that she always wears. With a blow of her whistle, Aunty Ulu raises her stop sign and jogs to the middle of the street to help an assortment of teenagers and children cross the bustling street safely. A few of the children mutter “thank you” and join the boy in the dandelion-yellow shirt as he shuffles into the gates of Ewa Beach Elementary School for another day of learning.
Many of the children and teenagers Aunty Ulu helps every morning and afternoon are unaware of why the Aunty is always there––the same Aunty who they worry about when she isn’t there.
Well, here’s why:
Because, forty years ago, she moved to Ewa Beach happily married.
Because when she was a housewife and her kids began going to Ewa Beach Elementary School, there were ads for the crossing patroller job and a teacher said no one wanted to do it.
Because she decided that if she didn’t do it, no one would. So she did.
Because despite the danger of the job, she was up to the challenge “in the name of safety for kids.”
Because she wants to give back to the community, to teach kids something important with what she does, to make a difference by showing the kids that if they work hard they can do anything.
Because she gets to watch the little boys and girls who cross the same street every morning grow up.
Because she’s met so many children and parents that some of the kids come back after graduating and remember her.
Because even now, even after fifteen years of the job, even after the teacher who first told her about the job became the principal of the school she wants to have the job until she has to leave.