“It’s not even a conscious decision that I ever decided, OK, I want to do this type of work. It was more I always knew that anything I did had to contribute to the greater good of our community,” says Rebecca Soon.
This week’s Good Neighbor has that rare mix of business and social smarts. Soon attended the elite Babson College and graduated in 2007 with a specialization in social entrepreneurship and business law. Now the 25-year-old is using her degree to help nonprofits behind the scenes so they can continue doing what they do best: helping make our community a better place to live.
“They’re really good at what they do - whether it’s serving the homeless or helping immigrants or helping families and children - but they’re not so great at making the nuts and bolts turn,” Soon explains. “What I do is try to help nonprofits put some of the back-office things in place that allow them to not have to worry about their sustainability.”
One such nonprofit with which she has been involved for the past four years is Kau Kau Wagon, a grassroots outreach program that hands out meals to anyone in need every Saturday at A’ala Park. In addition to lending much-needed manpower to the weekly food distribution, Soon helped Kau Kau Wagon gain 501(c)(3) status and receive its first grant from the Atherton Family Foundation last year, which already has allowed the volunteer-run organization to expand its outreach with increased meal distribution and frequency of service.
Other community efforts in which the Kamehameha Schools graduate has invested her time are the Pacific Gateway Center, the Native Hawaiian Organizations Association (NHOA) as well as a few political campaigns.
“What frustrates me is that too often politics becomes about politics, and we forget that there’s actually a real connection between what happens in government and what happens in our community. I’m willing to donate my time and give of myself because I think the more we can remember that our lives are affected by the decisions the government makes, the better off we’ll be as a community,” says the NHOA executive director, who credits her social consciousness to her parents, Ray and Cheryl Soon.
“My parents are both public servants and they both were very involved with our community my whole life,” says the Hawaii Kai resident. “Also, I think there is this natural thought that it’s part of your responsibility to give back to your community, and that’s just what it means to live in Hawaii.”
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