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The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce (KKCC) is seeking nominations for its annual Pualu Awards to recognize individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations which exemplify a commitment to the improvement and advancement of the West Hawai‘i community.
Award winners in each of the seven categories are honored at the Chamber’s Annual Installation and Awards luncheon at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on Friday, June 28.
KKCC 2012 Pualu Awards Tap Nine for ‘Working Together’
The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce (KKCC) established the Pualu Awards in 1979 to honor outstanding individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations in West Hawai‘i for their dedication and hard work in the community. In the Hawaiian dictionary pualu means, “to work together.”
This year’s winners have demonstrated the spirit of pualu by working to ensure West Hawai‘i continues to be a community we are proud to call home. Winners were chosen by KKCC’s Pualu Awards committee from nominations received by Chamber members and the general public. There are nine winners in seven categories and they were recognized at the recent KKCC annual Installation Banquet and Membership Luncheon at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.
Community Education, this award honors an individual or organization that promotes and supports education and enrichment programs that develop personal skills and lifelong learning and is given to Laurel Gregory.
Gregory serves as the sole librarian for our West Hawai‘i Community College and in that capacity she has turned the library into a student friendly, welcoming resource center that encourages both on-campus and distance learning students to expand their educational opportunities.
In addition, for the past decade Gregory has been a member of the Kona AAUW – American Association of University Women—and has been instrumental in this group’s support of two programs for continued education. They are Women in Transition, a program that encourages women to enter or re-enter college after having been out of the system working and/or caring for a family. And GEMS, Girls Exploring Math and Science, is a program to expand girls’ awareness of math and science-related careers. Through Gregory’s efforts, access and interest in higher education on Hawai‘i Island has been increased.
Environmental Awareness Award taps an individual or organization that exhibits sensitivity and concern for the environment through innovative environmental practices and is awarded to Lipps & Son – General Contractor.
As a result of the March 2011 tsunami, extensive damage was done to the Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. This included the ground floor of the hotel, Kamakahonu Beach, the lu‘au grounds and Ahu‘ena Heiau. Restoration required not only environmental understanding but cultural sensitivity as well. As this area is recognized as an historical site, it presented dual challenges in the renovation.
Repairs needed to be accomplished in a pono way. Collection and internment of the iwi, replacement of the sand, and renovations to the stone sea walls, heiau and lu‘au grounds required a team that understood collaboration and continued dialogue would be needed. Lipps & Son’s team consulted with experts on environmental issues, cultural practitioners, families from the area, as well as state and county officials. They ensured the renovations not only exhibited sensitivity and concern for the environment, but also preserved its unique historical features.
Business Innovation Award recognizes a business or organization that is committed to improving or enhancing employee’s lives, or exhibits creative product development, marketing or customer service. Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory and West Hawaii Community Health Center each received this award.
What would you do if you moved to Hawai‘i and found cacao trees on your property? If you are Pam and Bob Cooper, you establish the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory. OHCF is the first company in the state to both grow and make chocolate. Finding no commercial equipment to process only an acre of cacao beans, they fashioned their own and now produce excellent, small-batch chocolate. Building on that success, they taught other Big Island residents how to grow cacao, resulting in 30 additional growers. They also offer a plantation tour for visitors to see their orchard and factory operations.
OHCF has developed a local and global market for selling their milk, dark and criollo chocolate as the first commercial, tree-to-bar chocolate company in the state. Their chocolate is sold at over 60 statewide locations, at an Oregon winery and used by local chefs. The Coopers are lauded for their innovative vision, ingenuity and best of all, their delectable chocolate!
West Hawaii Community Health Center is a not-for-profit whose mission is to provide quality health services to all, regardless of income. Since opening, the center has increased its patient visits, from 2,200 in 2005 to over 32,000 in 2011. But success brought challenges, as more patients created longer wait times for appointments, sometimes as long as eight to 12 weeks—an unacceptable time frame.
To improve conditions, in 2009 WHCHC leased additional space in their Kuakini building, more than doubling their square footage. They hired more providers, opened the Keiki Health Center in Kealakekua, obtained an emergency adult dental van, which is parked at Kailua-Kona’s homeless shelter, and took health screenings and education into the more remote areas of West Hawai‘i, starting with Miloli‘i. This month, WHCHC will add adult care to the Kealakekua Health Center to better serve families in South Kona and will open the West Hawai‘i Community Health Center in Waikoloa to serve families in South Kohala.
WHCHC’s success can be attributed to recognizing a vital need in West Hawai‘i, quality customer service and care by staff, and their unique marketing efforts – they believe in word of mouth.
Lifetime Service Award taps an individual who has made a lifelong commitment to the community exemplified by their personal and/or business achievements. This year’s recipient is Virginia Isbell.
Wife, mother, teacher, leader, mentor, public servant, volunteer. Each of these nouns describes our recipient. She served in the state legislature for 16 years and then on the County Council for 2 more years. Isbell advocated for affordable housing and spearheaded the campaign to get state land for the West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery. She has served as an officer and director of Kai ‘Opua Canoe Club, helped initiate the West Hawaii County Band, (and played with them for 33 years), worked to obtain and improve the Girl Scout Camp here on Hawai‘i Island and serves on the Kona Crime Prevention Committee.
Dedicated to making things better in our community, our recipient demonstrates excellence in her ability to identify problems, develop solutions, bring together strategic partners and stay committed until positive results are achieved, offering tireless service to Hawai‘i Island.
Visitor Industry Marketing Award is presented each year to that person or group who diligently works to promote the visitor industry in West Hawai‘i. Congratulations to Kai ‘Opua Canoe Club’s Queen Lili’uokalani Long Distance Outrigger Canoe Race.
Promoting the visitor industry here is a beautiful and beneficial by-product of this organization’s event. For the past 41 years, the Annual Queen Liliu’okalani Long Distance Outrigger Canoe Race has brought attention and visitors to Kona. Recognized as the world’s largest long distance canoe race, this Labor Day weekend event welcomes more than 2,500 paddlers from around the globe, including Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Tahiti, the United Kingdom and more. The race partners with the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the County of Hawai‘i to extend and leverage its world-wide appeal. This event highlights the state’s official team sport of Hawaiian outrigger canoe racing and includes additional cultural aspects such as a craft and ocean fair, torch lighting parade and “talk story” cultural walk through historic Kailua Village.
This event has grown to accommodate today’s modern paddlers and has embraced several unique races, attracting new interests and visitors to Kona. This race has not only become world-renowned, but also plays an important role in contributing to the economic growth of Kona and Hawai‘i.
Culture & Heritage Award is awarded to an individual or organization that has exhibited, through its actions, practices that promote island traditions and preserves our multi-cultural heritage. This year’s recipient is the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa for celebrating and promoting the Hawaiian culture in a respectful, deep-rooted way.
Do you know the legend of the Menehune tree? Do you know why the battle of Lekeleke was fought and how many died? Did you know that Kauikeaouli was stillborn at Keauhou Bay, yet became Hawai‘i’s longest ruling king as Kamehameha III? These stories and more are unique to Keauhou and our recipient has embraced the concept of providing guests with a true sense of place.
Taking the model of cultural programs several steps further, the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa has made Hawai‘i’s culture core to their operations. Recognizing the importance of cultural revitalization and that the Hawaiian culture is what differentiates us from other tropical destinations, this resort offers, not only the “expected” cultural activities, but more. It has created Kaukulaelae Land & Sea Historical tours, including the opportunity to board a traditional Hawai‘i sailing canoe and learn the history and legends of the coastline; and the Lekeleke Cultural walking tour. These stories and more are unique to Keauhou. Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa believes visitors deserve to know them and in doing so, their visit is enhanced beyond measure. Residents are encouraged to partake of these tours and they are free.
Chamber Member of the Year recognizes the individual who advocates, promotes, and supports the mission of the chamber through active participation on committees, events, membership and/or community service. This year KKCC honors two recipients: a Chamber Business Member of the Year, Kona Brewing Company, and a Chamber Individual Member of the Year, Hazel Beck.
Kona Brewing Company not only strives to lessen its environmental impact, but aims to make a noticeable difference in our community. KBC continually donates product and merchandise to benefit local schools, non-profit organizations and county agencies—and KKCC is one of those recipients.
Many Chamber members attend our monthly AfterHours and partake of their ice-cold brew. If you played in KKCC’s annual golf tournament, you surely had a bottle or two of KBC’s “Liquid Aloha.” When you perused the Chamber’s annual Bid for Hawai‘i online auction, you may have bid on the “Pizza and Beer for a Year” item—a highly sought-after auction item! There has never been an instance when KKCC reached out to the Kona Brewing Company and they did not respond with anything but “Tell me what you need and I’ll take care of it.” Often, before we even make a request, KBC is asking how it can support our events.
It is with sincere gratitude and heartfelt appreciation that KKCC gives this award to Kona Brewing Company. Without KBC’s continued generosity, Chamber events would not be as well received, successful or as popular as they are.
The Chamber Member of the Year has committed time, energy and more than her fair share of sweat equity to support the efforts of our Chamber. Hazel Beck joined the Chamber in 2008 and immediately established herself within the KKCC family by volunteering as a resource for several of the Before Hours programs and serving on the education and later government affairs committees. She was elected to serve on the Chamber’s Board of Directors in 2011.
This is a woman with unique business insights, leadership and communication skills, and a talent for strategic planning. Just what the doctor ordered when the Board decided the Chamber would host an Economic Summit last January. Her vision, inspired thinking and resourcefulness, not to mention her drive and energy, helped produce one of the most successful and productive events this Chamber has hosted. And many of you know, her work did not end at the conclusion of the Summit. She continues to chair and drive two of the resource groups that were formed as a result of the 2012 Summit and is already involved with the planning of the 2013 Summit. Congrats, Hazel!