Goal nearly metBy Susan Kreifels
to build Filipino center
A professional fund-raiser here for the last 25 years calls the Filipino community here the "greatest group of people I've ever worked with."
That's why Chuck McLemore feels sure their dream of a Filipino community center at the abandoned sugar mill in Waipahu will become reality by early next year with a groundbreaking.
Almost half of the $13 million needed for land and construction has already been raised in money, property and in-kind contributions, said McLemore of Creative Fund Raising Associates Inc. He is hopeful the city will approve an extra $1 million in the next week.
Major contributions include $50,000 each from Pacific Guardian Life Insurance Co., the Bank of Hawaii and three private individuals, McLemore said. He hopes First Hawaiian Bank will follow.
Amfac donated 2 acres of sugar mill land worth $3 million.
A key in the fund raising, McLemore said, is the focus on using the facility to provide human services in addition to being a culture and arts center, plus collaborations with other organizations, such as the nearby YMCA, to provide services the community needs.
"This is an underserved population in terms of human services," McLemore said about the Filipino community, which in the 1990 census totaled close to 169,000 people -- 15.2 percent of the state's population and the third-largest ethnic community.
"We're getting a very strong response from everybody," he added.
Center activities will include Healthy Start for young children, immigration services, senior activities, wellness and prevention programs, youth programs, and "microenterprise training."
McLemore said the center has raised about $6 million of the targeted $13 million. Organizers also want to raise a $2 million endowment.
Their target date for all funds: December next year.
Ruth Academia Baker, a second-generation Filipino on the center's executive committee, believes it's "about time our ethnic group has something like this in Hawaii."
"We've made so many inroads in so many areas: politically, culturally and business," Baker said. "It's time to have something as a gift to the community."