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Kōkua Initiative: COVID-19 Relief in Hawaii

For our readers who are familiar with our Kōkua Initiative, you'll notice that our volunteer efforts looked very different in 2020. In an effort to keep our team and local organizations safe, in-person volunteer events were put on pause and our focus shifted. The COVID-19 pandemic has been much more of a challenge than we had ever imagined, or have dealt with in the past. However, it has been great to see so many people in our community come together to help each other. If there is one thing that we can count on during this pandemic, it's the heartfelt relationships, acts of kindness, and the loving force that pulls communities together.

The Waiākea Water Kōkua Initiative believes in the power of Laulima, or many hands working together as a collective, to overcome challenges, lend support, and strengthen one another. If we all do our part and contribute to the needs that arise, we can make a positive difference in our community, regardless of where you are. A majority of 2020 was spent listening to our community and lending a helping hand towards COVID relief. Some of the initiatives we have helped to support include:

Merrie Monarch Festival

The Merrie Monarch Festival is a week-long cultural event held in Hilo, Hawai'i each Spring with the purpose of perpetuating, preserving, and promoting the art of hula and the Hawaiian culture. After this year's unfortunate cancellation, Waiākea made a monetary donation to help offset some of the lost costs associate with cancelling.

OK Farms - Eco Hawaii CSA Food Boxes

OK Farms is an almost 1,000-acre farm located along Hilo's historic Wailuku River, overlooking Rainbow Falls. Unfortunately, Coronavirus restrictions resulted in the pause of in-person tours. In response, OK Farms - Hawaii Eco decided to temporarily shift their focus from agricultural tours and begin a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, where locally sourced produce are made available to residents through farm-to-table produce boxes. Through the help of volunteer family members, OK Farms has 100 boxes are available each week, including 1 bottle of Waiākea in each October box!

Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home

The Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home is Hilo's first State Veterans Home, providing high-quality nursing and personal care to veterans in the community. Unfortunately, the home is now filled with our Kūpuna at high risk for contracting COVID-19–as of October 1st, 71 residents and 35 staff members have tested positive with 27 deaths. Waiākea has donated water to the facility, making it easier for the staff to provide water for residents.

United Healthcare

United Healthcare's mission is to help people live healthier lives and to help make the health system work better for everyone. They seek to enhance the performance of the healthcare system and improve the overall health and well-being of the people they serve and their communities.

Girls and Boys Club of the Big Island (BGCBI)

The B&G Club made it their kuleana to cook over 880+ hot dinners a day, Monday to Friday–405 of these hot dinners are for individuals in the Hilo district. Their current focus is a Food Distribution Initiative for people in need due to the negative outcomes of the COVID-19 Pandemic. They serve the Hope Sevices Food Distribution in 6 Homeless Shelter locations, Salvation Army Food Distribution, Pahala Community and Families, Ocean View Community and Families, and some individual Home visits in remote areas.

As always, this would have never been possible without the support of our 'ohana of customers. Mahalo nui for your contributions, we're so grateful.

Waiakea water bottle surrounded by produce
Two people distributing Waiakea water at Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home
United Healthcare representative holding a box of Waiakea water
Man and woman each enjoying a bottle of Waiakea water

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