John Howell

Alana Folen
Wednesday - August 26, 2009
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As one of the state’s oldest, largest and most respected nonprofit organizations, Easter Seals Hawaii has been making a positive difference in the lives of children and adults with developmental disabilities for 63 years. And with a strong team of leaders, says president and CEO John Howell, the level of programs and services provided by the organization just keeps getting better.

“We will work with any child and adult who comes through our doors and try to improve their quality of life,” says Howell, who joined the nonprofit in 1993. “We really emphasize that we want to take an individual and be respective of their challenges, and try to find a way to improve their quality of life day by day,” he adds. “It’s not just what we do. It’s something we believe in and it’s just a part of who we are.”

Howell appeared on the cover of MidWeek in June 2004, and proudly admits that Easter Seals currently serves 3,000 individuals annually - 2,500 children in its early intervention program and 500 adults.


“The biggest change from five years ago is that we probably have twice as many employees, and we’re joining forces with the Arc of Kauai on Sept. 1 to provide more services to that island,” Howell explains.

Before that happens, though, Easter Seals Hawaii will open Napuakea, its newest and largest service center, in Kapolei, with the grand opening and blessing scheduled for Aug. 27. This 20,000-square-foot facility will house more than 500 infants, youths and adults with developmental disabilities and special needs, providing early intervention, youth services, adult day health, support services and work-force development.

“With the incredible population growth on the west side of Oahu, we knew we would have to expand our presence out there,” Howell says. “We were already providing services for the adult population out in Ewa, but because the state had come to us and said, ‘Can you help us grow our early intervention program?’ we started to look for opportunities to purchase land, and literally just finished putting the building up two months ago. Five years ago, this was just a twinkle in our eye - now it’s a representation of everything we do in one building.”

Easter Seals Hawaii works hard in its multiple fundraising efforts each year, and thanks to donations, contributions and grants from the community, the nonprofit continues its long tradition of service for Hawaii families. “We do all our services and programs with great compassion at the front door, but in the back office we run it like a business,” Howell says. “We do that so that our employees who deliver services - the therapists the social workers, the teachers, all of them - have all the resources they need to do the best possible job they can.”

For more information, call 536-1015 or visit

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