Donna Walden is a woman who has learned to cherish each day’s offerings.
From perusing the latest fashion trends to revving up on her car knowledge to helping Hawaii’s families find a place to call home with her real estate business, Walden lives with a vivacity unmatched by many. But it is her pursuit of capturing the moment and sharing her joy with others -whether it be through her hobbyist’s pursuit of photography or her nonstop volunteering - that brings her the most joy.
“I wanted to make sure that before my life ends I make a difference,” she says. “I’ve had hardships myself, and when you have the hardships, it creates more of a vision to understand other’s needs.”
Eight years ago, Walden began donating her time and money to Oahu’s public schools. She started small at first, taking lunches or school supplies to her son’s fifth-grade class at Nuuanu Elementary School. When he moved to Roosevelt High School in the ninth grade, Walden extended her charitable hand there. In 2006, she gave a large sum of her own money to help repair and furnish a few offices as well as provide air conditioners, water fountains, desks, chairs and a television at the school.
“Had I known earlier, I would have started sooner! I didn’t realize how much teachers do; they give so much of their own for their classes,” explains Walden, who attended Pearl City High School before graduating from St. Francis. “Ann Mahi (Roosevelt’s principal) was very open and encouraging, and it really helps to have someone supporting ideas that are new.”
Even though her son recently graduated from Roosevelt, Walden plans to continue giving. Coming up is a benefit concert at the school’s newly constructed George Robert Carter Auditorium. A venture five months in the making and fronted entirely by Walden, the two-night event stars the talented and always entertaining Willie K. Shows are at 6:30 p.m. July 25 and 26, with net proceeds going directly to Roosevelt’s music, athletic and art departments. Tickets cost $25, $100 and $250 (a portion is tax deductible) and will be on sale up to July 23. Parking is at Stevenson Middle School; a free shuttle service to and from the high school will be provided. For more information, call 595-3120.
“One of the things I learned from doing things for the community is that it’s very rewarding,” Walden says with a smile. “Even if you help just one child, be it through donating money or time, you can make a difference toward their future. You can’t buy that feeling.”
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