Let's all be Friends of Hawaii Charities
IT'S been in the news recently that Hawaii's charities are seeing a drop in donations. Many feel this is a result of Hawaii's people and corporations opening their hearts and pocketbooks to help those affected by the devastating natural disasters that have occurred on the mainland and abroad this year.
We have no argument with giving to communities desperate for help overseas. In fact, we applaud Hawaii's generosity. At the same time, we must continue to support our local people who need assistance.
As the old saying goes, "Charity begins at home."
Many of you might not be aware of the good work of one organization that zeroes in on raising funds for local charities across the state. Friends of Hawaii Charities is a nonprofit organization that hosts professional golf events including the Sony Open in Hawaii professional golf tournament, the Champions Tour Turtle Bay Championship and the LPGA SBS Open at Turtle Bay.
As a result of this involvement, Friends of Hawaii Charities, along with charity partner The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, raised a record $1 million in grant-making funds in 2005. Our voluntary board disbursed these funds to more than 100 charities statewide. In particular, grants were made to nonprofits serving Hawaii's women, children and seniors in areas of intervention, health and education.
The majority of this charitable funding is raised through the Sony Open in Hawaii. As title sponsor, Sony Corporation has been a wonderful asset to the tournament. We are pleased to have recently signed it up for four more years.
It comes as a surprise to many people that Friends of Hawaii Charities owns the tournament and is responsible for its organization each year. It's a massive undertaking that could not be achieved without the help of some 1,500 volunteers, the support of Waialae Country Club, the City & County of Honolulu, and the kokua of the surrounding neighborhoods that kindly accommodate the tournament traffic.
The Sony Open in Hawaii is a tremendous marketing tool for the state, involving as it does many of the world's top PGA Tour golfers and being televised in the United States, Japan, Europe and other markets from which Hawaii draws visitors. But the best part about the tournament is that since Friends of Hawaii Charities became involved seven years ago, it has raised more than $5 million for our local charities.
In January, we again will be enjoying the Sony Open in Hawaii. As you read about it, see it on television or come to Waialae Country Club to watch, please remember that this exceptional sporting event is a cornerstone of community philanthropy.
In the meantime, Christmas, the season of giving, is upon us. Given the shortfall in charitable donations that's making headlines, we especially encourage you once more to show generosity and compassion for all those unknown people who need our help. Mahalo.
Anthony A. Guerrero Jr. is president of Friends of Hawaii Charities and vice chairman of First Hawaiian Bank.