Campus and businesses partner to preserve a Windward tradition
Hoʻolaulea co-chairs, from left, Barbara Grange, Libby Young and Janis Chun are planning A Homegrown Celebration on the Windward Community College Great Lawn Sept. 22
Picture a starry September night and Windward Community College’s Great Lawn filled with folks enjoying the sounds of some of the biggest names in Hawaiian music on an outdoor stage. The evening’s entertainment is the culmination of the daylong Windward Hoʻolauleʻa—a free, community festival that has become the college’s signature event and a visible sign of its synergistic relationship with the Kāneʻohe Business Group.
This year’s event, dubbed A Homegrown Celebration, is scheduled Sat., Sept. 22, 2007, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is expected to draw people from all parts of the island to the Kāneʻohe campus for ʻono food, island crafts, keiki games and rides and activities showcasing Windward’s people and programs.
"The hoʻolauleʻa has become one of the biggest community events on the Windward side, with something for the whole family," says co-chair and Kāneʻohe Business Group board member Janis Chun.
"We’re excited about spotlighting the homegrown talents of our musicians, crafters and Windward Community College."
The entertainment lineup includes Nā Hākū Hanohano Award winners Kapena, Kaukahi, Nā Kama and Holunape as well as other groups and hula hālau with ties to the Windward side.
Enjoy college programs, community groups and name entertainment
New this year is a silent auction with an array of handcrafted items; gift certificates for family activities, hotels and restaurants; and imaginative donations featuring the talents of Windward faculty, staff and students. Proceeds benefit Windward Community College students and programs through the campus advancement fund and scholarships that help defray the cost of tuition, books and supplies.
This year’s hoʻolauleʻa is also part of the Celebrate Kāneʻohe series of events, honoring a community rich in history and tradition, as well as the University of Hawaiʻi Centennial.
But the real story behind the event is one of people—educators and business leaders who join forces to produce one of the most popular family events on the Windward side and raise funds for the college.
An army of volunteers began planning eight months out. Friends, neighbors, family members and other community groups pitch in. Kāneʻohe Business Group members and Windward college saff head key committees. Chun is one of three hoʻolauleʻa co-chairs, along with fellow board member Barbara Grange and Windward Professor Libby Young.
"It’s great that the event gets us working together," says Chun. "It gives the college exposure and it helps small businesses, like the crafters and food vendors."
Windward’s hoʻolauleʻa is a campus tradition dating to 1973. Over the years, it attracted some of the biggest names in island music, but it grew too large for Windward CC to handle alone.
After a hiatus, the idea of reviving a hoʻolauleʻa emerged, first at Windward Mall, then as a partnership with the Kāneʻohe Business Group and the college.
For Chun, who is in her third year as co-chair, the event has taken on a life of its own—and sometimes takes over her life. But she’s not complaining.
"I do like volunteering and giving back," she confides. "That’s something I just grew up with."
Chun’s dad, Evans Yim, set the example when he founded the Kāneʻohe Business Group in 1970 to link different neighborhood associations and build community solidarity.
"Back then, my dad had a supermarket that serviced Kāneʻohe to Kahuku," Chun recalled. "We kids were the gofers. If someone couldn’t come get their groceries, he made us deliver them. We trusted people to pay at the end of the month."
Kāneʻohe has grown from a town of gravel streets where nobody locked their doors. The Kāneʻohe Business Group pushed for the satellite City Hall, regional post office, district park and Windward Mall.In 2007, the group was a primary supporter of the college’s petition drive for a new library/learning resource center. The building, which received $41.6 million in construction funds from the 2007 state legislature, will add another campus gathering place for the community.
"We’re so fortunate to have such a committed group of businesspeople willing to give their time and energy to improve the community and the college," says Windward Chancellor Angela Meixell. "We’re a team, and that’s what makes this relationship so special."
More synergy: Windward Community College Professor Libby Young was elected 2007–08 president of the Kāneʻohe Business Group.