Makanani Rickard is a member of the Hawaii’s Daughters Guild of California, a nonprofit hui dedicated to perpetuating the arts and culture of Hawai’i. Join her as she shares about this unique group of women connected by a noble and noteworthy purpose.
Who are the Hawaii’s Daughters Guild of California and what are we all about? My instinct is to refer to our Mission Statement, but I realize that it doesn’t really answer the questions.
We are a small group of predominantly Hawaiian women. The image most people have of us (if they’re familiar with us) is that we are a bunch of older Aunties in red hibiscus dresses who dance to “I Kona”. That may have been true, but it is changing. Each member brings their own unique talents and skills to the organization, along with their purse (yes, their wallet) to donate to projects in order to keep costs down. We have managed to successfully operate since 1970 as a non-profit, 501c3 hui, funded by membership donations.
Our original members came together for obvious reasons: Heritage, culture, and residing in a new place so different from home and wanting to help others like themselves, acclimate to this new life. The South Bay/Long Beach area being highly populated with Pacific Islanders, made the transition a little easier. Our kupuna were full of traditional values, cultural practices, knowledge and beliefs learned from their kupuna. Hard work and stamina to get the work completed correctly (pono) has enabled the Hawaii’s Daughters Guild to be successful through the years. It has not been difficult to obtain community support for our endeavors because of the respect acquired from providing service from the heart and soul of this group. As a grassroots organization with ties to the community and community-at-large, the Daughters were able to enlist the support of the community to advance their agenda. The Daughters have the same goals and vision, and believe in our motto: I Mua!The majority of our founding members have passed away, however, we adhere to the mission, vision and goals they set, as well as the projects we collectively agree to take part in. It is our desire to teach and continue to learn our Hawaiian culture and history, and the importance of maintaining cultural and family traditions to ensure that our own children learn, understand, and not only reap the benefits, but also see the value of passing these teachings along to their children. Hawaii’s history is rooted deeply in legends, myths, spirituality and the innate sense and knowledge of connection to the `aina. We are taught from keiki time that there is a reason for what we do and why we observe prescribed protocol before we attempt to complete those tasks. Those protocols encompass worship, day-to-day talks of gathering food and preparing the meal, hula and chants, and lei-making, to name a few. Learning and understanding the process of how and why something is done in a certain way is important for the process itself; but also once learned, to attain the appreciation of the mana’o of all of those who came before us who continue to pass along their knowledge attained from trial and error. Last year, we implemented our first cultural workshop that was very successful, based on the feedback we received from participants. Classes for keiki to kupuna are available at our next workshop which is scheduled for November 2013.
We are also committed to providing service to the community around us – not just the Pacific Islander community. In the true Hawaiian way, we adopt the people who live next door to us and who reside in our community-at-large. We take them into our families and become a part of theirs. They assist us in our fundraising and community outreach and we help them with theirs. We provide food and clothing donations to homeless shelters, food pantries and battered women’s homes throughout the year. We also help with fundraisers for people with medical needs experiencing financial difficulties.
Throughout the year, we participate in the Revlon Run/Walk for Women, Ovarian Cancer Society and Autism Awareness. We actively provide education and information to our community on the most common health and medical issues currently affecting Pacific Islanders and women by using social media, printed handouts at our events and attending health fairs to teach and promote awareness and prevention methods.
The education committee seeks to provide outreach to college students from Hawaii who are here on the mainland attending school by offering ourselves as a relatable point of contact to keep them from becoming too homesick. Last Thanksgiving, we cooked, delivered and fed dinner with all the trimmings, to nearly 80 students that were not going to make it home for the holidays. Our desire was to show them that regardless of who you are or where you are from – always live in the Spirit of Aloha.
Finally, our main goal: Raise as much money as we can, each year, to provide scholarship assistance to as many young, Polynesian wahine encouraging them to pursue an education for a more secure future. Each student attempting to acquire higher education looks far and wide for financial assistance. We want to help our wahine attain their personal and professional goals. To date, we have awarded in excess of $300,000 in scholarships over 43 years to Pacific Islander wahine.
Asians and Pacific Islanders have been grouped together for decades and we are finally getting the Federal government to acknowledge Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islander groups disaggregated from Asians. Why is this issue a big deal? It’s a big deal because the idea of academic giftedness is ordinarily and incorrectly ascribed to ALL students of Asian descent – the reality is Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders are the only racial “group” that involves nearly 50 different ethnic groups and more than 300 languages, plus a huge variation in socioeconomic backgrounds! Clearly, this needs to be better understood in order to fairly accommodate students equally. This issue goes to political activism, advocating, and being a registered voter to affect change with your legislative representatives. However, that is another issue and one that is not part of our mission. The Hawaii’s Daughters Guild will continue fundraising to help our wahine to higher education.
In addition to meeting our mission and vision, we are reaching out to our Pacific Islander communities and the community-at-large with the aid of social media that is definitely helping us give the public a clearer understanding of the Hawaii’s Daughters Guild of California. Our deep commitment, dedication and hard work to find new ways to provide community service and scholarships for the past 43 years, could never have been as successful without the leadership of our kupuna and the support of our community.
For membership or scholarship applications with the Hawaii’s Daughters Guild of California, please refer to our website at http://www.hawaiidaughtersguild.webs.com or visit our Facebook page to read our daily posts and gain access to our website via the “about” section.