Open Your Heart for Special Olympics Hawai‘i

January 25, 2013 by  
Filed under charities, columns, Life in Hawaii

Starting Jan. 14, City Mill Company, Ltd. employees will pour their hearts and souls into this year’s annual Open Your Heart campaign – a month-long fundraiser benefitting Special Olympics Hawai?i. From Jan. 14 – Feb. 14, 2013, City Mill store employees will raise funds and awareness for this local nonprofit by encouraging customers to make a donation for Special Olympics Hawai?i’s Central/Honolulu area programs at check out.

During the campaign, City Mill employees will support this nonprofit and invite shoppers to make a donation of $1 or more to Special Olympics Hawai?i. Shoppers who make a donation can fill out a “Have a Heart” icon with their name that will be displayed throughout City Mill stores. A complete list of participating City Mill stores, including their newest store in Ewa Beach, is available at

“Special Olympics Hawai’i has always received tremendous support from the community during City Mill’s annual Open Your Heart campaign – and last year we raised a record-breaking $20,800 for our local athletes,” said Jen Ernst, Central/Honolulu area director for Special Olympics Hawai?i. “The company’s efforts help to make a positive impact in the lives of our athletes, providing the essential supplies and encouragement they need to succeed on and off the field.”

Last year, the Open Your Heart campaign raised more than $20,800 for local athletes providing them with the funds to purchase uniforms and equipment. To-date City Mill has helped raise $150,000 for Special Olympics Hawai’i.

“Every year our City Mill employees and customers are eager to spread the love and awareness for Special Olympics Hawai’i's worthy cause,” said Steven Ai, City Mill president and CEO. “This campaign is very close to our hearts because it gives us a chance to come together and support the community which supports us.”

This month Special Olympics Hawai’i presented City Mill Company, Ltd. with Special Olympics Central/Honolulu area’s 2012 Organization of the Year award.

For more information on Special Olympics Hawai’i, please contact 808-943-8808 or visit Special Olympics Hawai’i is also on Twitter, and on Facebook at

Courtesy of Special Olympics


Cooke Foundation Beautification Award Recognizes Three O’ahu Schools

January 23, 2013 by  
Filed under charities, columns, Life in Hawaii

The Cooke Foundation announced today the three recipients for its 2013 Cooke Beautification Award for Public Schools. This year’s three recipients, Iliahi Elementary School, Washington Middle School and Leilehua High School, all completed significant beautification projects in the past year and will each receive a $5,000 check and koa plaque at an on-campus award ceremony scheduled to take place later this month.

Each year the Cooke Beautification Award recognizes one elementary school, middle school and high school that have completed projects that beautify their school environment and significantly enhance the school’s overall appearance and ambiance. All public schools in the state, including charter schools, are eligible to apply.

“This is the fifth year that the Cooke Foundation has been able to recognize our local public schools and their efforts to enhance and beautify the campuses where our keiki learn and play,” said Greg Wrenn, Cooke Foundation alternate trustee. “We commend Iliahi Elementary School, Washington Middle School and Leilehua High School for their ongoing efforts to engage their students in these beautification activities and their commitment to sustaining a welcoming campus environment.”

Iliahi Elementary School is being honored for the transformation of a bare exterior wall into a colorful mural entitled, “Educating the Whole Child the Iliahi Way.” Students from the school’s after-school art program illustrated extracurricular activities offered at the school, configured in a larger design of a dragon, which is the school’s mascot.

Washington Middle School is being awarded for the installation of an incredible ceramic mosaic, constructed with the help of students. The aloha-themed piece is displayed prominently at the school’s entrance and features the names of students who assisted with the project. The school previously received a Cooke Beautification Award in 2010 for another mural project.

Leilehua High School is being recognized for an ongoing indoor and outdoor beautification project that has engaged hundreds of art students at the school for the past two decades. The project has resulted in approximately 30 murals on interior and exterior walls throughout the campus.

“This award is a tremendous honor for our students and the entire Washington Middle School ‘ohana,” said Michael K. Harano, Washington Middle School principal. “The award will help us continue to reinvest in making our school a great place to learn and an inspiring and attractive environment for our children.”

This is the fifth year the Cooke Foundation has presented the Cooke Beautification Awards. Previous Beautification Award recipients include:

  • Haiku Elementary School and Lahainaluna High School on Maui, and Kaw?nanakoa Middle School on O‘ahu (2011);
  • Mokulele Elementary School, Washington Middle School, and Roosevelt High School on O‘ahu (2010);
  • Prince Jonah Kuhio Elementary School on O‘ahu, Waimea Middle Public Conversion Charter School on Hawai‘i Island, and West Hawai‘i Explorations Academy also on Hawai‘i Island (2009);
  • and S.W. King Intermediate School on O‘ahu, Lahainaluna High School on Maui, and Innovations Public Charter School on Hawai‘i Island (2008).

The deadline for 2013 Beautification Award nominations is Sept. 3, 2013. The 2013 nomination guidelines will be posted later this month at

Courtesy of The Cooke Foundation


Keeping Hawai’i's Beaches Clean

October 20, 2012 by  
Filed under charities, columns, Life in Hawaii

Hawai’i has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world . . . crystal blue water, soft white sand, lush greenery. So when these amazing landscapes become littered due to carelessness, it really bothers me. That’s why I’m so happy to support companies like Method, an environmentally-conscious cleaning product company.

Method is raising awareness about ocean plastic pollution and the importance of using recycled plastic through a new line of limited-edition bottles made from a blend of recovered ocean plastic and post-consumer recycled plastic. This packaging is for a new Method product, a two-in-one hand and dish soap, available exclusively at Whole Foods Market stores nationwide.

Over the past year and a half, Method employees have worked with local volunteers from Sustainable Coastlines Hawai’i and the Kokua Hawai’i Foundation to hand-collect several tons of plastic from the beaches of Hawai’i, where the kinds of rigid, opaque plastic needed to make this packaging are most abundant. A portion of the product’s proceeds will go to these two Hawaiian organizations as part of Method’s efforts to establish an ongoing business model and supply chain for collecting and sorting plastic marine debris.

Together we can ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the beautiful Hawaiian scenery that we treasure today.
Connect with Method:


The Dove Self-Esteem Weekend – “Let’s Talk”

The Dove Self-Esteem “Let’s Talk” Weekend has come to an end and what a great time we had! It was a great opportunity for my daughters and I to have a heart-to-heart talk about the importance of self-esteem.

Dove is committed to inspiring all women and girls to reach their full potential by caring for themselves and each other. The Dove Movement for Self-Esteem invited all women to join them in creating a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety. There were many ways in which women could take simple actions that build self-esteem in girls. It could have been as simple as inspiring the next generation with words of encouragement, spending an hour on a self-esteem building activity, or supporting self-esteem education in her town.

For our weekend, I decided to get the girls outdoors . . . away from the television, magazines, and video games. It was time to be one with nature and show them a different meaning to the word “beautiful”. When I told the girls of my hiking plans they were very excited. They’ve never really been on a hike before and they couldn’t wait to see what it was all about.

We arrived at the Makiki Valley Loop Trail and found that there were many paths to choose from.

Since I had Kaila (2) with us, I knew I would have to select the easiest path. That turned out to be a great decision because it allowed me to talk to my girls as we leisurely strolled through the forest. We talked about how they were feeling about our new family situation, things happening at school, and anything else that they wanted to bring up. It was then that Kacie (10) mentioned that some of the girls in her class had started a “popular girls” club and asked her to join. She said she wanted to participate since these girls were her friends but that she also didn’t like that the group excluded other girls that she liked as well. In the end she decided to decline so that she could be friends with whoever she wanted to.

I am so happy that we decided to participate in the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem weekend. Sometimes it takes an event like this to remind myself to stop and enjoy my kids while I still can. Pretty soon they’ll be all grown up and I’ll miss moments like this when they still turned to me for help and advice. This is my chance to teach them that character, confidence, and independence are important traits that will take them far in life.

This post was sponsored by Dove


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