DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Parent Donna Walden speaks to Alan Kurosu as he installs an air conditioner in an office at Roosevelt High School. Walden has donated $35,000 so far to help improve the school.
Mother's generosity aids school
Donna Walden makes wishes come true for Roosevelt High School.
It seems that when Walden, a businesswoman and parent of a student, finds out what the school could use, she donates money, equipment and renovation projects, said Principal Dennis Hokama.
"It's so amazing -- a once-in-a-lifetime thing, a phenomenon," Hokama said.
"She's just a wonderful parent who happens to have some money" and wants to support the school because she says "it makes me feel good," Hokama said.
But Walden said, "I'm not rich. ... I don't want to give the impression that people need to give a large amount of money to help a public school.
"I'd rather it be about what I'm doing instead of the amount of money I'm providing. For example, Roosevelt needs air conditioning in their cafeteria; it's really hot in there. If 1,000 parents or alumni donated $100 each, they could get the air conditioning," she said, noting how every contribution counts.
Walden said people are always talking about how bad conditions are in public schools, but she has seen how parents and alumni can make a difference.
She has spent about $35,000 -- more than she originally expected to -- in repairing and furnishing a few offices and providing 10 air conditioners, five cold-water fountains, desks, chairs and one television.
But Walden said she "cannot complain when I think about the thousands of dollars teachers spend out of their own pockets for classroom essentials such as paper, pencils, etc."
Walden started on a small scale when her son, Corbin Dang, was a freshman two years ago, donating lunches to his band class.
But last year, she got involved in helping an alumni committee raise almost $600,000 to commemorate the school's 75th anniversary and to repair the sports complex and auditorium.
"This is one of the things I've always wanted to do in my lifetime. I'm so grateful to public schools and how hard the teachers work. And I want to help the students. They are the future of Hawaii, and I'm really concerned about that," said Walden, who attended public schools in Pearl City for nine years.
If people cannot donate money, "they can donate time to the school, some yard service or painting," she said. "Or at least spend time with their child -- that helps the school a lot."