STAR-BULLETIN / 2005
Star-Bulletin reporter Helen Altonn, shown here celebrating her 50th anniversary at the paper, has received a number of accolades this year. CLICK FOR LARGE
Year of awards capped by mayor making her day
Hannemann declares "Helen Altonn Day" in honor of the veteran Star-Bulletin reporter
A year full of accolades for longtime Honolulu Star-Bulletin reporter Helen Altonn was capped off this month when Mayor Mufi Hannemann proclaimed a day in her honor.
Altonn, who marked 50 years of reporting for the newspaper in 2005, has received several awards this year from local organizations for her work, especially in covering health news.
But on Nov. 3, the mayor surprised her by proclaiming that every Oct. 22 will be "Helen Altonn Day" in Honolulu to mark her first day on the job in 1955.
Calling her "intrepid and indefatigable," the mayor's proclamation said, "Altonn's professionalism, fairness, longevity and love for Hawaii have set a standard of excellence that may never be equaled."
"I'm very fortunate and grateful to have a job that I love, that's full of surprises and excitement, and allows me to write some stories that may help people," said Altonn, who has covered many beats over her career but has concentrated on health and science for the past several years.
Other awards presented to Altonn this year include:
» The first annual Honor Award from the Hawaii Coalition for Health. The coalition said its efforts to protect the rights of patients and give physicians leadership in health care "would never have occurred if Helen had not published a number of articles publicizing the discussions, and keeping health care issues in the public eye for several years. We acknowledge our debt to Helen Altonn for bringing news to the public and helping to change the status quo in health care delivery in Hawaii."
» The Communications Award from the American Heart Association recognized her outstanding efforts on covering the group "and its efforts to reduce disability and death from cardiovascular diseases and stroke."
» The 2006 President's Award from the Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawaii "for her long-standing contributions to the health and welfare of Hawaii's people."
» The 2006 Print Media Award from the American Cancer Society Hawaii Pacific Inc., which cited Altonn's "consistently excellent feature stories on health issues, particularly related to our childhood cancer programs, and government advocacy issues."
» The Print Media Award from the Hawaii Medical Association for "distinguished medical reporting."
"In her work, she is adept at communicating very complex health policy and clinical subject matter in a way that allows the average reader to relate to it on a personal level. Her coverage of Hawaii's hospitals and medical tort reform issues exemplify a determination to report knowledgeably on the medical concerns affecting our community."
Also, next month Altonn will receive the Jean Butler Chapin Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Oahu for exemplary contributions to the education of the community.
"I was very touched by all these awards. It was overwhelming," Altonn said.