PROMOTING COMMUNITY—The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce (KKCC) established the Pūalu 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. The awards celebrate those who “work together.”
“This year’s winners have demonstrated the spirit of pūalu by working to ensure West Hawai‘i continues to be a community we are proud to call home,” notes KKCC Executive Director Wendy Laros. “Winners were chosen by KKCC’s Pūalu Awards committee from nominations received by Chamber members and the general public.”
Winners, one in each of seven categories, were recognized at last Fridayʻs KKCC annual Installation Banquet and Membership Luncheon at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.
The Business Innovation Award recognizes a business or organization that exhibits creative product development, marketing, or customer service while enhancing the lives of employees. This year’s award goes to Dr. Gerald Cysewski and Cyanotech.
Through insight, dedication and innovation, Dr. Cysewski took an operation at the micro-scale and turned it into a 90-acre compound at the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park administered by the Natural Energy Lab of Hawaii Authority. Dr. Cysewski is a world leader in developing innovative technology in producing microalgae and nutraceuticals while developing a well-respected business model that encourages others to learn, grow and try new ideas.
The Community Education Award honors and individual or organization that promotes and supports education and enrichment programs that develop personal skills and lifelong learning. Hospice of Kona received this yearʻs award.
Hospice of Kona offers education programs enabling others to learn more about coping with death. From Hospiceʻs insightful “Death Over Dinner” events, to the joy and compassion they bring to Camp Erin for children who have lost a parent or caregiver, to Kokua Canine pet therapy sessions, this organization has been at the forefront of community education on death and dying since 1985. In addition, Hospice nurses educate both clients and caregivers about the course of care and provide training on medical equipment for home use to help ease that burden.
The Culture & Heritage award is presented to an individual or organization that has exhibited, through its actions, practices that promote island traditions and preserve our multi-cultural heritage. This year’s recipient is the Office of Maunakea Management (OMKM).
The awardeeʻs Long-Term Historic Monitoring Plan provides action steps to monitor, protect and preserve more than 200 historic features. These sites are always under threat, through unintended human impact, invasive species, weather and the ravages of time. Plus, there are deeply felt cultural, scientific and emotional ties to these sites from a diverse spectrum of community members. Under the guidance of Kahu Ku Mauna, the volunteer Native Hawaiian advisory council, OMKM hopes to achieve a balance between honoring cultural practices and preserving these historic treasures for future generations.
The Environmental Awareness award recognizes an individual or organization that exhibits sensitivity and concern for the environment through innovative environmental practices. This yearʻs award winner is the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative.
The initiative started with a group of volunteers who obtained a lease on a neglected 275-acre parcel with the hope of trying to restore Hawai‘i’s dry land native forest. They have since been returning five acres per year into a sanctuary offering native species protection from predators while offering a place to thrive. Through their efforts, they have encouraged school children, neighborhood gardeners, visitors, and members of the business community to learn about, use and showcase these important plants. Key community efforts included the WiliWili Festival and the Future Foresters of Waikoloa.
The 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. This year’s accolade goes to Hawaii Forest and Trail and Kohala Zipline, an eco-tourism leader for nearly 25 years.
Not only do this companyʻs guides and staff understand the value in what they share with visitors, they also know the importance of the journalist’s time and how to deeply connect an individual to place. Their marketing efforts have paid dividends, as they’ve been featured on the Travel Channel, MSNBC, and the Today Show - as well as in the pages of USA Today, the New York Times, National Geographic Traveler and Wall Street Journal just to name a few.
Founder Rob and Cindy Pacheco literally walk the walk: whether its carrying Google’s Trekker through 45 miles of scenic trails, to serving on the state’s Land Board, to going on visitor bureau press trips, they are always looking for ways to expand outreach to new media in new markets.
The Lifetime Service award taps an individual who has made a lifelong commitment to the community exemplified by their personal and/or business achievements and this year honors Ron Aronson.
Since arriving to Hawai‘i in 1970, Aronson has graciously shared his passion and leadership skills for nearly five decades. Among his many positions, he was a charter member of the Kona Toastmasters, and served as their first president. He was the vice president of the Kanahahou Hawaiian Foundation. He was the president of the Kona Board of Realtors, and served as the state association’s vice president.
He chaired the Hawaii Board of Realtors State Education Convention for 10 years, bringing the event to Kona three times. He’s served on the Kailua Village Design Commission and in various leadership roles with KKCC, including three times as board chair. He was a coach and referee for West Hawaii Youth Soccer. He has served on UH Hilo’s Advisory Board and helped to bring the University of Hawai‘i and Charles Schwab together to lay the groundwork for HCC-Palamanui.
This year’s Chamber Member of the Year is Pam Latinis. The Oʻahu native volunteers with KKCC in many capacities. Latinis is the chair of the Chamberʻs golf tournament and a regular at monthly AfterHours events, often taking photos as a long-time marketing committee member. She has also served multiple terms as a KKCC Board of Director and is currently South Kona Vice Chair.
In her professional life, Latinis serves as a MacArthur Sotheby’s International Realty Broker in charge of the Kailua-Kona office. Pam brings the same integrity, passion and energy of her professional life to her volunteer service for the community.
Congratulations to all the 2017 KKCC Pūalu Award recipients!