KAILUA-KONA — What started as a regular coffee klatch turned into a standing roundtable of constitutional enthusiasts.
Instead of sipping lattes and catching up on the neighborly doings, these days Wake-Waikoloa — a pack of eight to 10 mostly retirees — dissects the nation’s founding document every week.
“We never lack for something to talk about,” said Mikie Kerr, who founded the group in 2013.
They meet at 9 a.m. Thursdays just outside the food court in Waikoloa Highlands Shopping Center in Waikoloa Village.
But more than sharing observations among themselves, the group wants to bring awareness of the supreme law of the land to keiki, residents and visitors by distributing their free pocket Constitutions throughout West Hawaii, which they’ve done so far in spades.
They partner with small businesses that host small kiosks where patrons can grab a copy of the 39-page booklet. They’re currently working with about 50 establishments.
Locations that distribute the most copies include L&L Barbecue (Waimea and Kona), Kona Guns &Ammo, Killer Taco, Tres Mex and Rancha Thai in Waikoloa, Dano’s Doner and the Shell station in Waimea and Paradise Postal in North Kohala.
“We have donated copies to schools upon request and would like to do more,” said Kerr, who also writes a monthly column for West Hawaii Today, aptly named Constitution Corner. “We don’t really have any outreach to the schools, but teachers have individually approached us to provide copies for their classes and we’re happy to do so.”
The group came to be when Kerr was writing a blog about the blueprint the nation’s Founding Fathers left behind and a group of like-minded enthusiasts on Maui contacted Kerr about starting a weekly group on the Big Island.
She jumped at the chance as she thought it was an important message to spread.
“I would say it’s important for everybody to read the Constitution to understand the structure of our government and to know that the Constitution was basically set up to preserve individual rights and to protect us from an overreaching federal government,” Kerr said.
Since 2013 the group has distributed nearly 40,000 copies on the west side of the island.
They typically pay $300 for 1,000 copies of the pocket Constitutions. They recycle bottles and cans and make small out-of-pocket contributions themselves each week to help cover the costs. Donations are greatly appreciated, Kerr said. While 10 or so people usually show up for the weekly meeting, about 65 are on Kerr’s mailing list.
While less than 40 pages is a lean read by most standards, the book includes it all the, from the Declaration of Independence to all 27 amendments.
What’s Kerr’s favorite amendment? It should be noted her monthly column with its Libertarian lean can be a lightning rod for reader feedback.
“No. 10 is a big one for me,” Kerr said, referring to the one that grants states powers not expressly granted to the federal government. “I think the federal government has taken up way too much power from the states.
“And, of course, No. 1 — freedom of speech, freedom of religion — is a real big one,” she added.
Any businesses or teachers who would like to participate can email Kerr at Dare2Kerr@gmail.com.
West Hawaii Today editor Tom Hasslinger contributed to this report.
Email Laura Ruminski at email@example.com.