Another charity should host Taste of Honolulu
Easter Seals Hawaii announced that it will no longer stage the popular event.
AFTER 15 years, the annual Taste of Honolulu festival has become a popular three-day fixture outside the city's downtown offices. The presentation of delicacies by Honolulu's finest restaurants drew thousands of residents but became a diversion for Easter Seals Hawaii, which has announced it no longer will host the fundraiser
. Other charitable organizations should step up to the plate to keep the event alive.
Since the event's first courses were offered in 1991, Easter Seals Hawaii has grown from four programs and 35 employees to more than 20 programs and 400 employees with a $14-million budget providing services to people with disabilities. John Howell, its president and chief executive officer, says the Taste of Honolulu has required too much time away from that core mission.
More than 50,000 people showed up for this June's event, netting a record $280,000 for the charity in each of the last two years. However, Howell said, about 80 percent of its revenue comes from state contracts, and about half of the remainder comes from contributions ranging from $25 to $100.
Preparations for the Taste of Honolulu include coordination of five shifts of 5,000 volunteers. Howell said Easter Seals plans to continue the Chef du Jour banquets, introduced two years ago and consisting of $135-a-plate sit-down dinners for 1,000 diners. Other charities engage in similar fundraising banquets.
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation has been the title sponsor over the years, and the Star- Bulletin and Midweek have been among more than 20 cosponsors. They should stay seated in hopes of another charity coming forward.
Restaurants should remain eager to participate in what Top of Waikiki manager Robert Lee describes as "a great event for the industry itself." Other nonprofit organizations should take up Howell's offer to discuss transferring the Taste of Honolulu to one or more of them.
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