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  • Hawaiian Electric's "Kokua Champions" give back to their communities

Hawaiian Electric's "Kokua Champions" give back to their communities

In recognition of their exemplary volunteer service to the community during the past year, Hawaiian Electric employees Sam Nichols, Rebecca Dayhuff Matsushima, Sandra Nada, and Keith Webster each received the 2016 Kokua Community Champion Service Award from the HEI Charitable Foundation. The award included a $1,000 donation to a nonprofit organization selected by the recipient.

Sam Nichols, a senior community affairs consultant, was honored for her role championing student education in STEM robotics and energy conservation/efficiency. As a key member of the Hawaiʻi VEX Organizing Committee and Hawaiʻi FIRST Robotics, Nichols works with educators to ensure major robotics tournaments such as the Pan Pacific VEX, State VEX, and FIRST Lego League championships are executed flawlessly. Nichols also coordinates STEM nights at schools across Oʻahu, engaging kids in the wonders of electricity and energy, and in 2016 worked on the development of an energy conservation education program featuring the company's owl mascot.

A long time Pearl City resident, Nichols selected Pearl City High School and Surfrider Spirit Sessions to share the $1,000 donation. "Most of the community organizations I am involved with I give of my time so it's a great switch to be able to contribute financially. The school has earmarked the funds for a student leadership training camp while Surfrider can continue its mission of matching at-risk kids with volunteer surf mentors," said Nichols, adding that her husband and son agreed to volunteer as surfing coaches after she committed to the donation.

Rebecca Dayhuff Matsushima, a senior associate general counsel, was recognized as a role model for her leadership in community service activities. Through the Hawaii State Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Legal Lines, the Kailua resident is among the volunteers who answer phones and share legal expertise with individuals who cannot afford good legal advice.

As a board member with the Honolulu Professionals Foundation (HPF), Matsushima plays a key role in organizing their annual fundraiser, and the nonprofit was her selection to receive the $1000 donation. "HPF is a group of young professionals that wanted to find a way to give back to the community that has provided us so many opportunities," said Matsushima, an HPF member since 2010. "Every year, HPF selects one to two beneficiaries and hosts a large fundraiser. We focus on small, local nonprofits that are doing amazing things in our community but may not be well known throughout Hawaiʻi or have the time or resources to throw their own fundraiser. Our event not only raises funds, it builds awareness about all the great things they are doing."

Sandra Nada, a project analyst, was honored for her year-round efforts coordinating Hawaiian Electric volunteers to serve meals at the Institute for Human Services (IHS). Nada takes the responsibility of representing Hawaiian Electric and serving the community seriously. When people drop out at the last minute, Nada will ask for volunteers from her department or, if needed, she recruits family members to join her in serving meals to the men and women at the shelters. "I chose to gift IHS the $1000 so they can continue to provide support targeting at overcoming homelessness in Hawaiʻi," said the Palolo resident.

Keith Webster, a senior supervisor engineer, was recognized for his numerous volunteer work across Oʻahu, including guest lecturer for the control tech associate program at Leeward Community College; district camporee coordinator for the Boy Scouts & Cub Scouts Pack, Koʻolau district; board member of Faith Action for Community Equity, a nonprofit working to improve the quality of life in Hawaiʻi through grass-roots support of legislation; volunteer with Hawaii Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD); volunteer with Toastmasters Prison Clubs at Halawa and Waiawa prisons; and an active member of the Kahaluʻu United Methodist Church where he has participated in the district disaster preparation and response committee.

Webster, a Kāneʻohe resident, gifted the $1000 donation to the Hawaii VOAD, a coalition of nonprofit, faith-based and community organizations that prepare and respond to disasters by sharing knowledge and resources. "VOAD handles things that FEMA and HI-EMA do not. It fills a useful niche getting help to people that need it and those that fall through the cracks," said Webster. "These funds will go toward ensuring better coordination between volunteer groups in the aftermath of a disaster, and I am grateful to Hawaiian Electric and HEI Charitable Foundation for this donation."




About Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO)
For more than 100 years, Hawaiian Electric Company has provided the energy that has fueled the islands' development from a Hawaiian kingdom to a modern state. Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. (HECO), and its subsidiaries, Maui Electric Company, Ltd. (MECO), and Hawaii Electric Light Company, Inc. (HELCO), serves 95% of the state's 1.2 million residents on the islands of O`ahu, Maui, Hawai`i Island, Lana`i and Moloka`i.

The energy we use is an essential but limited resource necessary to maintaining our quality of life. In a changing world, Hawaiian Electric has evolved to offer more than electricity.

Today, the company also provides energy solutions to help customers save money and use energy more efficiently. Hawaiian Electric also continues to pursue the use of more clean, renewable energy alternatives to help ensure a sustainable future for our islands.

COMMUNITY COMMITMENT

Hawaiian Electric Company is dedicated to our community in which we live, work and serve. Rooted in Hawaii and one of the largest companies in the State, Hawaiian Electric takes the concept of malama pono -- to care for and serve -- to heart. The company and our employees have a long tradition of contributing with dollars, time and talent. Corporate citizenship is crucial to Hawaiian Electric's overall business plan because strong communities are essential to the success of the company, our employees and our customers.

Company and employee volunteerism is encouraged and every month, employees walk, run or provide manpower to dozens of non-profits throughout the State. Hawaiian Electric's corporate giving philosophy gives priority to projects that help families, promote education and protect the environment.

The company also sponsors robotics programs and events that promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) education, as well as the SunPower for Schools program bringing solar electric power to select schools, the Solar Sprint event where students design, build and race cars using solar power, and the Home Energy Challenge, a school-based competition encouraging elementary school students and their families to reduce energy use at home, among other programs.

For nearly a decade, Hawaiian Electric volunteers have provided manpower, bucket trucks and ladders to install Christmas lights at the Kaimuki Community Park and playground before the annual Kaimuki Christmas Parade in December.

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