Visitor Industry Steps Up Again

Mufi Hannemann
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
June 08, 2011 | Hawaiian Airlines Discount Share

The Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association’s annual statewide Visitor Industry Charity Walk in May was a resounding success, with a record $1,155,100 raised to benefit more than 200 local charities. Meanwhile, on the Big Island, the association presented a $5,000 donation to the Kona Village/Hualalai Relief Fund to help visitor industry workers affected by the March tsunami.

These acts were expressions of the visitor industry’s long-standing civic leadership and involvement in the betterment of our island community.

For the Charity Walk, a total of 10,950 participants on five islands put their best slippahs forward for the event, which marked its 33rd year. The walks were held on three consecutive Saturdays beginning May 7, with Molokai first; Hawaii, Kauai and Maui second; and Oahu last.

Maui raised the most money, with donations reaching $470,100. The other totals were Big Island, $161,000; Kauai, $137,000; Molokai, $5,000; and Oahu, $382,000. More than $23 million has been raised during the lifetime of the Charity Walk.

This year’s walk was chaired by Kelvin Bloom, president of Aston Hotels & Resorts, who said, “It’s an unprecedented outpouring of kindness and kokua that exemplifies our aloha spirit. A big mahalo to all of the thousands of folks who participated and gave so generously, especially considering the tough economic times.”

The funds will be used to support local organizations engaged in charitable work, meaning the funds raised here stay here.

Dennis Brown, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Honolulu, told us, “The Charity Walk has been a consistently significant contributor to BigBrothers Big Sisters of Honolulu’s after-school mentoring programs for children and youths. We are grateful for the support of the visitor industry community which helps us make a meaningful impact on ... children.”

Donna D. Fouts, executive director of the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Hawaii, said, “In these economically challenging times ... it is so wonderful to have a Hawaii event like the Visitor Industry Charity Walk that is focused on giving back to our local community. The funds ... have gone a long way in helping United Cerebral Palsy provide quality of life for those with disabilities. ... UCPA has additionally enjoyed walking as a group each year in this fun and festive event.”

The HHLA’s donation on the Big Island will help visitor industry employees who lost their livelihoods because of the natural disaster. The Kona Village Resort, Hualalai Resort and Four Seasons Hualalai were damaged by the tsunami.

The Kona Village has been closed indefinitely, with 230 employees losing their jobs.

Affected employees will be invited to apply for aid, which can include grocery and fuel gift cards; assistance to pay utilities; money for health insurance, and vocational training or tuition assistance.

The Kona Village/Hualalai Relief Fund is being administered by the Hualalai Ohana Foundation. The foundation has already provided a $25,000 gift for the fund and will add another $25,000 once the original donation is matched by the public. The foundation is accepting all donations. Information is available at Checks should be mailed to P.O. Box 5227, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96745.

Whether providing internships and scholarships for high school students, raising millions of dollars for charities or helping industry employees, the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association is taking an active role in contributing to the greater good.


Julie Manuel

Position: Seamstress

Location: Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa

Island: Oahu

You’ve seen Julie Manuel’s work many times over the years: Hilton’s Aloha Festivals floats and costumes for 16 years, Honolulu Festival Mikoshi parade banners, Easter bunnies in the lobby. Julie has been with the Hilton for nearly 40 years, first as a housekeeper and as a seamstress for the past 14 years. Her exceptional mastery of skills, reports her supervisor, enables her to make last-minute clothing alterations for visiting royalty, a quick fix to a bridesmaid’s gown, or upholstery repairs for hotel and restaurant furniture. It’s no wonder Julie was named Housekeeper of the Year at the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association’s 2011 Na Poe Paahana Awards.

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