"I'm so grateful. It was a very kind
thing for them to do."
Takitani Foundation steps
in to help an aspiring film producer
after she loses her funds
The Mamoru and Aiko Takitani FoundationBy Rod Ohira
has awarded $500,000 in scholarship
funds to Hawaii students since 1993
A $10,000 scholarship from the Mamoru and Aiko Takitani Foundation was awarded today to a 1998 Kalaheo High graduate, providing a happy ending to a fiasco created by a Houston-based company.
"I'm so grateful. It was a very kind thing for them to do," Melanie Fields said. "The past few weeks have been so hard for me, but it's a relief that I can go back and focus on my studies."
Fields, a freshman at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., and an aspiring film producer, was one of 51 outstanding students throughout the nation who won $10,000 renewable scholarships by AdamsVision USA, a commitment the company did not honor.
"My personal message to Melanie is to let this unfortunate experience be a thing of the past and to look forward to the future and strive to do her best to fulfill her dreams and ambitions," said Aiko Takitani, president of the Takitani Foundation.
"I'm happy we were able to do something for (Melanie) and her family. When I first read the story, it struck me that something must be done for her, otherwise her college career and future career, as well, will be jeopardized."
The foundation does not offer renewable scholarships, but Takitani said she hopes this award will enable Melanie to arrange her affairs and finish college.
"It takes away the urgency (of finding immediate financial relief) and gives me time to find scholarships for next year," said Fields, who made the dean's list in her first semester at Chapman.
Retired Marine Lt. Col. Paul Fields and his wife, Barbara, of Enchanted Lake, accepted the Takitani award today on behalf of their daughter.
"We're truly honored and grateful for the blessing the Takitani Foundation has bestowed on Melanie," said Barbara Fields, a part-time teacher at Aikahi Elementary School.
"At this point, she's back on track. She'll now be able to say 'I'm going forward again, not backward.' "
Barbara Fields and her husband, a substitute teacher in the Windward Oahu school district, expressed appreciation to others in the community who have offered support for their daughter.
"It's so overwhelming that so many people cared about Melanie and we're very appreciative of that," she said.
Melanie Fields says the national response has included one Seattle-based company that offered computers when officials heard one student had to sell his computer after losing the scholarship.
"People showing support has meant a lot to all of us," Melanie Fields said.
300 students get
Hawaiian Host founder'sBy Rod Ohira
scholarships let students realize
SINCE 1993, the Mamoru and Aiko Takitani Foundation has awarded $500,000 in scholarship funds to more than 300 students from every public and accredited private high school in Hawaii.
"One of the dreams and wishes of my late husband, Mamoru, and myself was to do something for the young people of this state and to give back to the community some of the fruits we have enjoyed," Aiko Takitani said.
The foundation draws its funds from profits of Hawaiian Host Candies, one of the businesses founded by the Takitanis.
The foundation annually awards a graduating senior from each high school a $1,000 scholarship.
The senior is then eligible to receive one of three additional awards -- separate $10,000 distinguished student awards presented in the names of Mamoru and Aiko Takitani, and a $5,000 outstanding student award named after Aiko Takitani's niece, Karen Uno.
Mamoru Takitani died in 1988 at age 76.
Educated in Japan and at St. Anthony High in Maui, Takitani managed his father's business, Star Ice & Soda Works, in Wailuku until 1960 when he moved to Honolulu to open a candy manufacturing company in Kaimuki.
Takitani began producing chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, marketed under the name Hawaiian Host Candies, with 12 employees at the former Ellen Dye Candies store location. The company had 350 workers and was shipping millions of candy boxes at the time of Takitani's death.
"He and his wife always did things low-key," said foundation board Vice President Hideo Kondo said. "When Mamoru returned from Japan, he had a teaching degree but got into the family business.
"Although he was a successful businessman, Mamoru was a teacher at heart. The scholarships were his way of paying back the community."
Aiko Takitani is chairman of the foundation's board. Other members are Joseph Kiyose, Mike Harada, Kenneth Yamato, Kondo and Uno. The trustees are Aiko Takitani, retired Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Yoshimi Hayashi, retired Circuit Judge Toshimi Sodetani, Shigeo Iwamoto and Colbert Matsumoto.