Volunteer Week Hawaii 2021: Supporting the efforts of our local nonprofits
by Dan Kaneko | April 20, 2021
Here in Hawaii, we love to help others — it’s an indelible part of our local culture. We take tremendous pride in the aloha spirit and do our best to spread it to others. We aim to malama, or care for, our keiki (children), kupuna (elders) and aina (land). And whenever Auntie or Uncle needs help, we’re the first to show up at their door.
Yet, according to AmeriCorps, only 28 percent of Hawaii residents volunteer, ranking us 41st in the U.S. This troubling statistic inspired one local nonprofit to take action in a big way.
In late 2017, Kanu Hawaii launched an annual campaign called Volunteer Week Hawaii to increase volunteerism and build more resilient communities. Volunteer Week Hawaii is the largest statewide volunteer-focused campaign, bringing together residents, visitors, nonprofits, businesses, schools and government agencies in a concerted effort to take grassroots action to better our communities.
In 2020, Kanu Hawaii provided dedicated support to facilitate virtual volunteering by launching Respond with Aloha and Kokua Exchange. These volunteer management platforms have created a space for individuals and organizations to help (both in-person and virtually) in various ways — including making donations, providing key services, giving or receiving volunteer hours, and supporting local businesses.
Having worked at a local nonprofit prior to joining Hawaiian Electric, I experienced firsthand just how essential volunteerism is to the work nonprofit organizations do in our communities. Without the volunteer efforts of service-minded individuals and generous donations of community partners, our local nonprofits would not be able to achieve their missions.
Hawaiian Electric supports Kanu Hawaii’s commitment to strengthening our communities through resilience and is one of many proud sponsors of Volunteer Week Hawaii. We need to remember that even in the midst of the pandemic, local nonprofits still have a real need for our support to continue the good work they do in our communities. Here at Hawaiian Electric, giving back to our community is part of our workplace culture. In the first quarter of 2021, 271 Hawaiian Electric employees and their ohana have contributed to 563 volunteer hours, and 249 blood donations were made. I am happy to work for a company that continues to encourage volunteerism, especially during these difficult times.
With more than 100 local nonprofit organizations engaging in Volunteer Week Hawaii and at least as many events, there is a project for just about every interest. Whether your preference is serving kupuna or mentoring youth, cleaning our beaches or restoring our natural habitats, Kanu Hawaii can connect you with a project that speaks to you.
So let’s all volunteer with aloha this Volunteer Week Hawaii! It’s our kuleana, or responsibility.
Volunteer Week Hawaii 2021 is April 18–24. For more information on Volunteer Week Hawaii, visit www.kanuhawaii.org and check out their calendar of virtual volunteering opportunities.
Dan Kaneko is a digital communications and social media specialist at Hawaiian Electric Company.