Meet nine Islanders who are making life in Hawaii better for those who most need the help.
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Kukui Children's Foundation
When funding from the City and County allowed the Kukui Children’s Foundation to purchase a building on the edge of Chinatown, Judy Lind knew that her vision for a one-stop-shop serving Hawaii’s most vulnerable kids was a step closer to reality. Many years and many donations later, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Kukui Center opened in January 2009.
For executive director Lind, just as thrilling as the grants and monetary donations (and, just as necessary) were the smaller in-kind gifts from businesses and individuals who were moved to contribute once they learned about the center’s mission and saw a specific way to help. “I tapped into a universal desire of people to help in a doable way … even those who wouldn’t ordinarily be in a position to donate,” enthuses Lind. Over $250,000 in donated services and materials—ranging from plumbing and roofing to yard work and artwork—proved her right.
With the heart of a social worker and drive of an entrepreneur, this is not the first time Lind’s persistence and dedication have paid off: More than 20 years ago, with the help of the Legislature and the Rotary Club of Honolulu, she founded the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Hawaii in 1986. It’s hard for Judy Lind to say “no” to Hawaii’s kids, and it’s just as hard to say “no” to Judy Lind.
Kapiolani Health Foundation Pediatrics Fund
If you don’t want to get involved in a good cause, you’d better not run across Annie Yonashiro, because the 54-year-old hair stylist, tennis player, marathoner and mother of two is likely to recruit you with her enthusiasm. The way Yonashiro sees it, “People want to get involved but don’t know how.”
Her spirited philanthropy dates back to 1972, when one of her classmates from Hilo High School was diagnosed with leukemia. With the help of friends, Yonashiro put together a cookbook to help defray medical expenses. Two cookbooks and lots of fundraisers later, she has raised “tons of money and never enough” for the Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry and received a national award for her efforts.
Like her assorted activities, Yonashiro’s causes are multiple. When a friend from her tennis team delivered a baby born 15 weeks prematurely, Yonashiro stepped in to help care for him at Kapiolani Medical Center. When the baby died 13 months later, Yonashiro donated proceeds from her cookbook, Annie’s Favorite Favorites/Island-Style Cooking, to the Kapiolani Health Foundation Pediatrics Fund in his memory.
She’s uncertain about her next project—except that there will be one—and sure that she can count on her wide circle of friends, family, customers and complete strangers to help when she is called upon … and calls on them.
Mililani Middle School
Hoomalu O Na Kamalii
“There’s no turning back now,” says teacher Clav Caalim in describing the atmosphere of altruism at Mililani Middle School. What started as a community service project, organized by teachers after Hurricane Katrina, has evolved into a fully integrated service-learning curriculum that lets students choose where they can make a real difference in the community.
Six hundred eighth-grade students made a $12,000 difference last year for foster kids who need a place to go when they’ve been removed from their parents. The bedroom they sponsored at Hoomalu O Na Kamalii came from pledges for the school’s annual walk-a-thon. “It made me feel good,” said 13-year-old Alexa Dowdell, who walked seven miles, and who, along with many other students, feel just like Michaela Kubo: “I’ve begun to see other problems right around me that need to be fixed.”
Whether it’s cleaning up graffiti on nearby buildings, or improving the nutrition of cafeteria food, students are taking on their causes and educating their classmates with PowerPoint presentations. Younger grades are also getting into the act, sending care packages to areas of the world they are studying. Much like the colds and rumors that commonly spread through middle schools, the spirit of philanthropy in Mililani is contagious.
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