Donating to United Way: ‘That’s what WE do’

Hawaiian Electric
3 min readNov 1, 2022

by Donica Kaneshiro | Nov. 1, 2022

For Peter Young, donating to Aloha United Way is about demonstrating our company principles of empathy and aloha to the people around us.

Although Peter has been giving to AUW since he first started at Hawaiian Electric, he said it wasn’t until he had been at the company for a few years that he really understood the impact our employees have when they band together for the United Way pledge drives.

“It took a number of years for me to understand and fully appreciate the role that Hawaiian Electric plays in the community,” Peter said. “We provide an important essential service, so we have an important role in the community. And that role extends to how we support our community with our donations to Aloha United Way.”

Peter explained to me: “It’s important that you understand it’s not just you, as an individual, donating. You may think your donation is small because you’re just one person, but when you aggregate that across all Hawaiian Electric employees, we can show how important that is to the community.”

“The donations from employees, retirees, and the corporate charitable foundation, they make a huge impact to Aloha United Way and the community, and it’s important to me that WE continue to maintain that and show the company’s support for Aloha United Way through our individual donations. That’s what WE do,” he said.

Peter told me he chooses not to select a specific charity when he donates to AUW, and instead relies on the organization’s expertise in gauging community shortfalls.

“It’s sort of an all-encompassing community-support umbrella,” Peter said. “AUW has been a part of the local and national community for many years and they’re a trusted facilitator. Giving to AUW allows us to rely on the community experts to direct support to the right places.”

That expertise is critical as the state recovers from the pandemic as demands continue and resources are strained.

“The community needs that AUW is supporting were there before the pandemic, they continued through the pandemic, and they are still with us now,” Peter said. “At the same time, many folks have had diminished resources and income, and so their challenges become enhanced.”

“In addition, the people who normally support those challenges may have fewer resources, so even though their heart is still in the right place, their pocket may be a little lighter, and it’s harder to support what you would normally support,” he said.

Peter said he feels lucky that he hasn’t faced the employment struggles that many have dealt with in recent years.

“I’m fortunate to be able to live in this community and work in a great company that serves this community,” he said. “It’s upon ME to acknowledge that and support the community, and I can do that through donating to AUW.”

“Our role as Hawaiian Electric in the community needs to be all encompassing — the essential service that we provide and the aloha and support we have for the community — that’s something that we need to do, that we must do,” Peter told me. “We support the community that supports us.”

Donica Kaneshiro is a communications consultant at Hawaiian Electric Company.

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Hawaiian Electric

Established in 1891, Hawaiian Electric is committed to empowering its customers and communities by providing affordable, reliable, clean and sustainable energy.