Jodie Chiemi Ching
In celebration of their centennial anniversaries, Aloha United Way and Servco Pacific Inc. are teaming up to honor their legacies of service to the community with a collaborative initiative aimed at addressing the root causes of Hawai‘i’s systemic and persistent social welfare issues. The initiative is titled the Hawaii Social Impact Project.
Servco’s chairman/CEO Mark Fukunaga and president/chief operating officer Rick Ching joined Aloha United Way COO Norm Baker at a Feb. 6 news conference at AUW’s offices to announce the launch of the Hawaii Social Impact Project. Fukunaga and Ching also presented a $200,000 check to AUW to help fund the initiative.
In 2018, Aloha United Way determined that 48 percent — nearly half of Hawai‘i’s households — fell into a category known as ALICE, which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.
ALICE families are “Asset Limited” households with no financial safety net to fall back on in the event of an unanticipated emergency, be it medical or even an unexpected, but necessary car repair. “Income Constrained” are families whose income falls short of their basic necessities; and “Employed” refers to the working families, whose income, despite working, falls short of what it takes to live in Hawai‘i.
The “Hawaii Social Impact Project: Moving Hawai‘i’s Population Towards Financial Stability,” is a three-year, statewide initiative aimed at addressing the challenges identified by a cohort of community nonprofits selected by Aloha United Way. The program will address underlying causes of the problems facing the community, not just its symptoms.
The Servco donation will be divided among the state’s four counties with Hawai‘i County receiving 55 percent of the monies, Maui County 51 percent, 46 percent to the City and County of Honolulu and Kaua‘i County receiving 43 percent. The percentages refer to the percentage of households which fall into the ALICE category.
AUW president and CEO Cindy Adams noted in a press release that as Aloha United Way celebrates its centennial anniversary and embarks on its next 100 years, “AUW is looking at best practices like collective impact to address systemic issues. The Hawaii Social Impact Project will not only help ALICE families, but also create a framework, adaptable to other critical issues affecting our state,” she said.
Addressing a multifaceted problem such as that facing ALICE families calls for a multifaceted solution, which is the role the cohort partners will play. AUW’s Norm Baker said the initiative offers hope to ALICE families.
“The grant that Servco has provided us will enable us to learn, to pilot, to pick the things that work really well, and develop something that we can deploy statewide. And, hopefully, in a few years, our community can come together as a collaborative and start addressing these really serious problems,” Baker said.
Fukunaga said that when Servco officials began considering how it wanted to celebrate its milestone 100th anniversary — from a two-car repair garage started in Waialua by his grandfather Peter Fukunaga in 1919, they reflected on “what we stand for.”
“And if there is one value that defines us, it’s service,” Fukunaga said, noting that Servco’s original name was Service Motors. “We serve our customers; we also serve the greater community.”
“The other part that we think about a lot, obviously, is gratitude. So, in thinking about our celebration, we’re defined by service and motivated by gratitude.”
Fukunaga said Servco plans to donate more than $1.5 million over the course of its centennial year to all of the community nonprofits that make Hawai‘i a better place. With the company’s $200,000 gift to Aloha United Way, it took an important first step in addressing the root causes behind the financial challenges of many Hawai‘i families.