Hawai’i Island United Way: Making a Difference Where It Counts

Non-profit organizations in the community have been the pillars of a foundation in which the residents of Hawai’i Island sometimes depend on. While these non-profit organizations of the island have their direct sources of funds, they sometimes need additional or collaborative support- and this is where Hawai’i Island United Way comes in.

Hawai'i Island United Way? Who Are They?

Originally established in 1967 as the Hawai’i Island United Fund, HIUF was built on the principles of supporting the island’s communities directly. Back then, its main principle was “Fair Share” or giving one’s hours pay per month. In 1974, HIUF evolved into the familiar Hawai’i Island United Way, which meant that HIUW was part of the national United Way network. By being a part of this official network, HIUW was able to garner more benefits for the communities on the island.

Small Team Makes The Dream Work

“Our small team of 4 works tirelessly with our vendors and volunteers to help local non-profits fulfill their missions by creating fundraisers and partnering opportunities to bring people together to benefit our island collectively.” says Karen Davis, President and Chief Professional Officer.

There are four United Way agencies in the state: Aloha United Way (serving O’ahu), Maui United Way (serving Maui, Moloka’i & Lana’i) and Kaua’i United Way. The major difference between each is the amount of people being served in the community and sizes of each office- with O’ahu being the largest and Kaua’i, the smallest. While all the United Way agencies in Hawai’i carry out a similar mission, each have their own methods to raise funds. The funds they raise support their local non-profit partners and provide community programs that are specific to their respective offices.

How Do They Help? How Are They Funded?

If you are familiar with the way grants work, that is how Hawai’i Island United Way is able to help. As a grant funding organization, HIUW provides funding that is supplemental to local non-profit agencies that run critical and high demand programs in the community. To make these funds available for grants, HIUW raises monies through the collaboration of community events and various donors. These fundraising efforts are part of a history that the organizations hold close to their heart and mission- bringing Hawai’i Island residents together to unite and affect community change.

“HIUW works hard to receive funding through fundraising events that are help at least twice a year, workplace payroll deduction programs, sponsorships and partnerships from large local organizations, direct donations from the community and through grants (county, federal and private).” says Davis. “All monies raised by Hawai’i Island United Way go towards supporting grassroot initiatives, temporary programs, and of course, their non-profit partners. HIUW also raises funds for current and future disaster recovery programs. The legacy of the HIUW was built on the generosity on island and to bestow the ideals of a healthy, strong and more sustainable community- ideals that emphasize accountability, collaboration, diversity, integrity, leadership and responsiveness.”

Karen Davis, HIUW President & Chief Professional Officer

Karen Davis joined the HIUW team a little over three years ago as its new President and Chief Professional Officer. Experienced in the challenging world of non-profit board and leadership for 16 years in the state, Davis was excited to accept the role and found herself honored to collaborate with likeminded individuals to assist and improve all communities in need.

In addition to her primary responsibilities with HIUW, Karen Davis also serves as the Chairwoman for the FEMA Emergency Food & Shelter program that HIUW administers.

Call to Action: Upcoming Events & Fundraisers

Interested in the donating to the community programs around the island? Hawai’i Island United Way will be hosting the following upcoming events & fundraisers: 

Luck of the Irish Gold Tournament in March
Agency Fair in May
Mayor’s Cup Gold Tournament in July

To follow and learn more about this amazing non-profit organization, please check out their socials below:

Phone: 808-935-6393
IG: or @hawaiiislandunitedway

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