Living ‘Service Above Self’

By John Henry Felix
Wednesday - July 18, 2007
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Taking a break at HMAA (from left): senior VP Rodney J. Park, John Henry Felix, president/COOTerry Mullen, and office manager Lois Estrella
Taking a break at HMAA (from left): senior VP Rodney J. Park, John Henry Felix, president/COOTerry Mullen, and office manager Lois Estrella

I come from a family tradition of public service. My grandmother was a founding member of the Grandmothers’ Club of America, and a very active member of the American Legion Auxiliary. My mother committed much of her life to community and church programs. So I guess you could say that community service is in my blood, but perhaps, more importantly, it is in my heart. My business philosophy is that in your work, you have to do things you enjoy-and there is nothing more enjoyable than helping others.

My work has taken me to places as diverse in geography as in occupational endeavor- from managing squalid refugee programs in East Africa and Asia, to studying amidst the backdrop of majestic spires at Oxford, to leading meetings in the board-rooms of for-profit and non-profit organizations in Honolulu. I have served in the U.S. military, defended workers’ rights as a union leader, served as the Chief of Staff to Hawaii’s first State Governor, and spent 16 years as a Honolulu City Council member. I also serve on the boards of the Boy Scouts, Red Cross, and the March of Dimes, and am the Chair of Abilities Unlimited.

Throughout all of these varied experiences, I was and remain guided by the principle I learned as an Eagle Scout, Red Cross volunteer, and Rotarian: service above self. I have learned that we are more alike than different, and that we are all accountable for each other-we have to be. We have a responsibility to share with one another and to teach each other so that we can make our lives better.

With this in mind, HMAA is introducing a series of programs that provide broader benefits and promote a higher quality of life for members through healthcare education and information. Our vision plan offers an eye health management program that focuses on the treatment and management of both eye and overall health conditions. We have a diabetes awareness program that promotes regular eye exams. HMAA also offers medical packages that include alternative therapies such as acupuncture, naturopathy, and chiropractic medicine as well as various insurance programs.

I recently had the opportunity to work in partnership with a friend I have known since my childhood, growing up in Kaimuki. When HMAA decided to redesign its logo, we knew we wanted it to embrace local and Hawaiian culture. We owe our loyalty and dedication to our members and partners here in the Islands, and so our logo should reflect local values. As such, we called upon my dear friend Mamo Howell to assist us. The resulting design expresses warmth, friendship, and ‘ohana.

There is a Hawaiian proverb, “‘Ike aku, ‘ike mai, kokua aku kokua mai; pela iho la ka nohana ‘ohana,” which translates, “Recognize others, be recognized, help others, be helped; such is a family relationship.” The concepts of reciprocity and service to others have served as the common threads which have guided me throughout my long and varied career. No matter what I have done, I always attempted to live my life well, and for me, living well means living in service to others, as a steadfast advocate of servant leadership.

Live well!

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