News

Tanaka to remember family at marathon

Tsunami took lives of wife, infant daughter

September 16, 2011
By Lehia Apana – Staff Writer (lehia@mauinews.com) , The Maui News

It’s been more than six months since Daisuke Tanaka lost his wife and 2-month-old daughter in the tsunami that devastated his hometown of Rikuzentakata, Japan. Their deaths aren’t something he can run away from. For now, he’s just looking for something he can move toward.

Tanaka and his wife, Shizuka, visited Hawaii several times and were married on Oahu in 2008. They returned the following year when he ran the Honolulu Marathon and she took part in the event’s 10-kilometer walk. Her goal was to eventually run in the Maui Marathon, and he vowed to enter Sunday’s race as a way to honor her memory.

“I keep running to keep my promise with her,” Tanaka said, with help from an electronic translation device.

Tanaka has been living on Maui since July as part of the Aloha Initiative program that helps those displaced by the earthquake and tsunami. The home-stay program matches those in need with local hosts for up to 90 days – the maximum time allowed under a visitor visa.

Tanaka acknowledged that he is still trying to cope with the death of his wife and child and is hopeful things will get better. He lives with a host family in Kula, where he begins his daily runs of 10-15 miles. He also spends about an hour each day swimming along Baldwin Beach in Paia.

The 36-year-old Tanaka has a slim frame and toned calves, and his skin is leather-colored from hours training outdoors. Underneath the tough exterior, though, is someone still trying to cope with painful memories.

He recalls walking through the decimated streets the day of the tsunami, searching for his wife among the bodies and debris. He was on his way to the hospital when he learned she was still alive, but she died soon after they were reunited.

A second blow hit when a body matching the description of his daughter was found. It was later confirmed to be that of his newborn baby.

Tanaka said the marathon isn’t about breaking a personal record or finishing in the top of his division. Instead, he will use it as a time to reflect.

During the race Tanaka will wear a T-shirt covered with messages handwritten by people from Rikuzentakata, as well as his friends on Maui. It’s just one of many things on his body that will have poignant significance.

He still wears his wedding ring, and keeps his wife’s ring on a chain around his neck. On his right arm is a tattoo of their matching Hawaiian wedding bands. His other arm is inked with two butterflies representing his wife and daughter, along with dates such as birthdays and anniversaries.

Tanaka will fly to Oahu on Monday to scatter his family’s ashes in the ocean, as requested in his wife’s will. Two days later he will return to Japan, but says he hopes to return to live on Maui permanently.

For now, he’s focused on the marathon and anxious to join the more than 900 others registered for the 41st annual event. Come Sunday morning, Tanaka will likely fade into the crowd of runners along the starting line, his story one of many that will inspire those who tackle the 26.2-mile run.

“When running, I will talk to my wife and think about her,” he said. “Thinking of them, I get the power to keep running.”

 


 

Great coverage from MauiTVNews!


The Aloha Initiative on CNN

 

 

 

 


Hawaii Residents Show Support For Japanese Family

Aloha Spirit Helps Victims Deal With Disaster

Video:

HONOLULU — Dozens of Japanese families, all from the country’s disaster devastated regions, have been in Hawaii since the beginning of July. They are taking part in an island program to take a break from the horrors at home.

While many have taken in the sights, what has mattered most is they have been taken in by the people of Hawaii.
On the menu at Paina Café is poki bowls. Just a little taste of Hawaii for Miyumi Shinkawa and her 15-year-old daughter Aika, who have been seeing the sights — from sandy filled beaches to Hawaiian landmarks on a trip that started with a bang on the fourth of July.

“Everything is so wonderful, the trees, the air — everything is so new and tropical. It makes us forget the bad memories and the troubles we had back in Japan,” said Shinkawa.

The trip, part of the Aloha Initiative, is a chance for this family to relax and, for a brief time, enjoy the simple things once again.
Just drinking tap water is something they cannot do back home because the water is contaminated with radiation. Drinking it could be hazardous to their health. But even though the devastation is thousands of miles away, the disaster is still with them.

“We are worried about our home, cause we still have a loan and mortgage and everything but we have lost their jobs — so there is a lot to worry about,” said Shinkawa.

That was why she said this trip meant so much. A little bit of comfort food, and a lot of comfort by the people of Hawaii. Which has warmed their hearts — even more than the hot Hawaii summer days.

“Everything they’ve done makes us think more positively in not turning back — and going on with our lives,” said Shinkawa.

On Wednesday, the Shinkawa family will head up to the Pali Lookout. Where they will take in the view of the Windward side of Oahu and take in more of the fresh, clean air many in Hawaii take for granted.

In fact, Shinkawa said radiation in the air is what worries her the most back home and the impact it could have on her young daughter.

Read more: http://www.kitv.com/news/28530029/detail.html#ixzz1SOVgn0Jb


A new spot, a new day: Displaced Japanese surfers welcomed to Maui
July 14, 2011
By KIM BALL , For The Maui News

Daisuke, Jun and Masami Suzuki have more in common than their last names and love of surfing. The three lifelong residents of Fukushima prefecture had their lives forever changed on March 11.
The Suzukis, who are not related, were at work when the largest earthquake ever recorded in Japan’s history struck the Tohoku region, and was followed by a massive tsunami.

They told their stories during an interview at a picnic at Launiupoko Beach Park organized by friends of Aloha Initiative, an organization that has assisted with airfares and arranged for Maui home-stays for victims of the disaster. More than 100 people attended the event, including almost 30 Japanese who were displaced. When the earthquake struck at 2:46 in the afternoon, Daisuke Suzuki, a 26-year-old professional surfer, was at work in the surf shop his father opened in 1979. The shop was located in a small neighborhood on the outskirts of Iwaki City, about 30 feet from the ocean.

“All the surfboards fell on the ground,” Daisuke said through an interpreter. “My first thought was to get my father and to move the surfboards in case a tsunami came. I was thinking they would get damaged. “I got in the car and then I heard on the radio that a big tsunami was coming. If I didn’t get in my car and hear the radio, I would be dead.”

Instead of the surfboards, Daisuke got his father, grandfather, and grandmother into the car and drove up a hill just behind their property. His wife, two daughters and mother were visiting his wife’s parents in a mountainous area.
After a while, his grandfather grew impatient and walked back to the family home to assess the earthquake damage. That would be the last time Daisuke saw his grandfather, a retired abalone diver.

“No one in my neighborhood thought the tsunami was going to come,” Daisuke said. “All the old people didn’t take it seriously. People up north were used to a tsunami, we never had for the longest time.” Daisuke could hear the roar of the tsunami, and see what he described as the wave’s “dust,” and he pushed his grandmother farther up the hill. “The first wave was one to two meters, and before it went out, the second one came. It was 10 meters or more,” he said. “The tsunami hit the mountain we were on and stopped. Only people on the hill survived. “When the tsunami went out, we didn’t see any water. We could only see sand all the way to the horizon. All the fish were on the road everywhere.” In his small coastal neighborhood, 130 people died. The body of a neighbor was found on a beach 100 miles away.

The only thing he found from his shop was a surf video, “Morning of the Earth.” The land where his shop and family home were is still underwater – the topsoil had all been washed out to sea. Strangely enough, the surf spot in front of the shop, Usuio, is still breaking, just a little farther out. Daisuke, though, won’t be surfing there anytime soon.

“I’m worried about the radiation,” he said. “Because of my daughters, I don’t want to go back yet.” Iwaki City is 24 miles north of the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. Anyone within an 18-mile radius was evacuated.

Daisuke and his family relocated to live with relatives in Niigata, about 120 miles west of Iwaki City. “I’m working a part-time job, anything I can find,” he said. “Mostly it’s been clean-up and recovery jobs. My wish is to start a surf shop again at the same place, but now it’s not safe.” Daisuke and his wife, Ryona, and daughters Marina, 3, and Hiromi, 1, are staying with the family of Kaala and Andrea Kaio in Waiehu. Jun Suzuki, an assistant bank manager for Soso Credit in Namie, was driving back to work after making some outside sales calls when the earthquake struck. “When I was driving I felt the impact from the bottom,” he said. “I slowly stopped and looked around. Telephone poles and stone walls were falling down, the road started to crack.

“After the earthquake I wanted to drive back to the bank, but the bridge had a big gap in it, so I had to drive all the way around. The building next to the bank was tilted, the bank entrance was sunk lower. All the electricity was out, and the broken waterline was shooting up water in front of the bank. I sent someone out to guard the door, and I picked money off the floor and shoved it into the safe. “I didn’t see the tsunami because it stopped before the main highway.”

Namie is six miles from the nuclear plant. Jun knows it will be a while, if ever, before he surfs his local spot, Ukedo Beach Club.
The port town of 25,000, he said, is now a ghost town.

“The news says it will be over 10 years before you can even go in the water there,” he said. “I drove five hours just to go surf, the farthest north tip of the island, close to Misawa. Before it took me two minutes to get to Ukedo.”

Jun calls his surf buddy, Masami Suzuki, a legend in their area. The 55-year-old Masami was doing what he had been doing for the past 27 years when the earthquake hit, working at Riga International, a wetsuit manufacturer.
Even though Riga is only 18 miles away from the nuclear power plant, the factory re-opened 42 days later – without Masami.
He and his wife, Michio; their daughters Ayaka, 17, and Sakura, 14; and his parents also relocated to Niigata. Masami said his wife is working a government job in Minami Soma City, “a shaky area, but not in the evacuated area,” and Ayaka is going to school in Sendai, 60 miles away.

“She used to commute on the train,” Masami said. “But since the train is destroyed, she has to live there.”
Masami and Sakura are staying with the family of Ronald and Kei Fukumoto in Kahului while Jun is being hosted by Anthony Arakaki of Kula.

All three had big smiles on their faces when they spoke about their Maui experiences. “I surfed the best waves, Shark Pit, Mala Wharf. I want to live here,” Daisuke said. “I’m very grateful to be here and the Maui people have been taking care of us with open arms.”
Maui surfers Kana Saita, Tomoko Nonaka, Yuki Sakaguchi, Ayako Iguchi, Akiko Naito and Tomoko Okazaki have been picking up the Suzu-kis and taking them surfing.

“My soul is in the process of healing,” Jun said. “It’s nice not to have to worry about what you eat or radiation.”
“It’s so beautiful here,” Ma-sami said. “Good water, nice people, food is really good. I didn’t surf since the earthquake, now people are bringing me a surfboard, taking me surfing. I’m really grateful to all the people who started Aloha Initiative and all the volunteers


PANESE CULTURAL SOCIETY OF MAUI TO HOLD JAPANESE PINE TREE PLANTING CEREMONY IN HONOR OF THE THOUSANDS OF VICTIMS OF THE MARCH 11 TOHOKU EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI

WAILUKU –  Japanese Cultural Society of Maui President Tiffany Iida today announced that a Japanese pine tree (matsu) planting ceremony will be held on Saturday, August 6, at 10 a.m. at the Japanese garden of Kepaniwai Park in Iao Valley in honor of the victims of the March 11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
The event is free and open to the public.

As Honorary Chair of The Aloha Initiative, Mayor Alan Arakawa is scheduled to convey his message of condolence and words of sympathy for the victims, as well as an encouraging message of hope and perseverence to the survivors of the March 11 catastrophe. Scheduled to be in attendance are the citizens of Japan who are on Maui through The Aloha Initiative, a Maui-led program initiated the week after the March 11 disaster to provide citizens of Japan who have been displaced by the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis with a warm and welcome home.

Organizers decided to plant a matsu because it is a symbol of long life and perseverence.  They were especially inspired with the story of how only one tree was left standing from a forest of trees in Rikuzen-Takata, Iwate Prefecture, following the terrifying force of the March 11 tsunami.  According to news reports, the Takata Matsubara forest was designated a scenic spot and a popular tourist destination in Iwate Prefecture.   Approximately 70,000 red and black pines grew on an approximately 2-km-long stretch of beach.

The only tree, estimated to be from 270 to 280 years old, survived the tsunami.  It was been a great emotional support to residents who have dubbed the tree, “kiseki no ippon matsu” (the miraculous lone pine tree).  For more information about The Aloha Initiative, call 280-1299 or visit alohainitiative.com.



Japan Families Arrive on Maui for Respite Stay

07/05/2011 @ 1:22 pm, Maui News
By Wendy Osher

Forty-five Japanese citizens arrived on Maui yesterday as part of The Aloha Initiative program. The program offers families from Japan respite care in Hawaii following the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Under the program, volunteer host families on Oahu and Maui are providing a warm, nurturing environment to help victims of the disaster recover. The guests will spend up to 90 days in the islands, with the first group of 68 arriving over the holiday weekend.

During a welcome ceremony at the Honolulu International Airport, survivors were presented with leis and gifts. Individuals paired up with host families on O’ahu were greeted by them, while the remaining visitors were escorted to Maui.

“When we started the Aloha Initiative to try to help these Japanese citizens who were devastated by the Japan disaster, we could not have imagined the tremendous outpouring of Aloha and support that we have received,” said Lynn Araki-Regan, co-founder of The Aloha Initiative. “We are very grateful to Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa for his support, as well as our partners First Hawaiian Bank, Japan Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines, Relativity Media, and Mana Foods for stepping forward to make this dream of ours a reality. They truly embody the spirit of Aloha.”

The Aloha Initiative is backed by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui, and was created to provide those displaced by the March earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan, with a temporary home in the islands. The Japan residents were selected based on greatest personal need and circumstance.

Flight arrangements for the beneficiaries were made by Japan Airlines. Both Japan Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines offered substantially discounted fares for families participating in the program. Monetary donations to the program will be used for ground transportation, discounted airfare, and travel insurance.

Ways to help The Aloha Initiative Program:

Monetary donations are still being accepted through July 15, 2011 at any First Hawaiian Bank branch in Hawaii, Guam and CNMI.
On Maui, gently used or new clothing donations are being accepted at: Araki-Regan & Associates, at the Kahului Hongwanji Mission, and at Omochaya in the Pukalani Terrace Center (call 572-9833 beforehand if dropping off at Omochaya).
On Oahu, gently used or new clothing is being accepted at: Hope Chapel West Oahu inthe Waikele Shopping Center. Donations can be made on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on the first Saturday of each month in July and August from 9 a.m. to noon.

* The Aloha Initiative welcome event, photos courtesy Irvin Yamada


THE ALOHA INITIATIVE ORGANIZERS LAUNCH CLOTHING DRIVE FOR MARCH 11TH DISASTER VICTIMS ARRIVING FROM JAPAN ON JULY 4

The Aloha Initiative organizers today launched a Clothing Drive.  Their mission is to collect gently used clothing for the victims of Japan affected by the March earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis and who are scheduled to arrive on Oahu and Maui via Japan Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines on July 4.

Japan families selected for the program were on the basis of greatest personal need and circumstance. Those women, men and children selected will be flown to Hawaii and spend up to 90 days with host families willing to take the displaced residents in and provide them with a warm, nurturing environment during their time of crisis. The Aloha Initiative will be paying for ground and the discounted air transportation to and from Hawaii as well as traveler’s insurance.

The public may donate new or gently used clothing at any of the following drop-off locations:

OAHU – Hope Chapel West Oahu in the Waikele Shopping Center, 94-877 Lumiaina Street, Building 12, Waipahu.  Donations will be received on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 am to 5 pm and first Saturday of each month in July and August from 9 am to noon.

MAUI –  Araki-Regan & Associates, 1823 Wells St, Suite 2A, Wailuku; Kahului Hongwanji Mission, 291 S. Puunene Ave. Kahului; or Omochaya in Pukalani Terrace Center.  Omochaya requests that donors call 572-9833 beforehand.

“Monetary donations are also needed and we thank First Hawaiian Bank for its generous donation as well as for allowing all of their branches throughout Hawaii to serve as collection points until July 15,” said Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa who is the Honorary Chair of The Aloha Initiative.

For more information about The Aloha Initiative, call 280-1299 on Maui or 292-1262 on Oahu, or visit alohainitiative.com.


Hawaiian Providing Air Support to Japan Families for “Aloha Initiative”
HONOLULU – June 15, 2011 – Increasing its commitment to supporting recovery efforts in Japan, Hawaiian Airlines has joined “The Aloha Initiative,” a grassroots program offering respite in Hawaii for families displaced by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Initiated by Maui residents Keith Regan and Lynn Araki-Regan and Keith and Michiko-Lynn Powers, and led by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui, the program expects to bring more than 100 affected Japan residents to Hawaii over the next few months to help the healing process by staying with host families on Maui and Oahu for up to 90 days.

The Aloha Initiative is paying all transportation costs through generous donations made by various businesses, including First Hawaiian Bank, and the general public.

Hawaiian is contributing free interisland flights, as well as substantially discounted fares between Japan and Honolulu, in support of the program.

Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian’s president and CEO, commented, “Families affected by the disasters in Japan are facing a long road to recovery and we want to help provide as many as possible with some relief from life in shelters.”

“We are so grateful to Hawaiian Airlines for truly exemplifying the aloha spirit with their generous support for our respite program,” said Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa, Honorary Chair of The Aloha Initiative.

Lynn Araki-Regan, co-founder of The Aloha Initiative, said, “Without businesses and individuals coming together to show their support, this project would not even come close to becoming a reality.”

Volunteers of the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, are reviewing program applicants from Japan and matching them with host families in Hawaii. Priority is being given to those who are most in need of help and compassionate support during this difficult period. Program participants are expected to include a range of individuals and families affected by the natural disasters, such as orphans accompanied by guardians, adults who have lost spouses or children, and families who have lost all their possessions.

The first group of Aloha Initiative participants is tentatively scheduled to arrive in Honolulu from Japan on Tuesday, July 5 [update: new expected arrival date is Monday, July 4th]. Some will be placed with host families on Oahu, while others will travel to their host families on Maui.

Ginny McKee, a project manager for Hawaiian, is a member of The Aloha Initiative’s organizational committee and has been instrumental in securing air transportation for the program. A Kula resident, she and her husband will also serve as one of the host families for Aloha Initiative.

“Opening our home to someone from Japan is our way of sharing Hawaii’s aloha and helping them to heal, so that they can return home and renew their lives,” said McKee.

To make a financial donation to The Aloha Initiative, visit any First Hawaiian Bank branch up to June 30. For more information about the program, visit online at AlohaInitiative.com.

Hawaiian’s fundraising efforts in support of Japan’s recovery have exceeded more than $250,000 to date. The company, with help from Chef Chai Chaowasaree, organized the “Lei Day for Japan” music and cuisine benefit on May 1. In addition, Hawaiian held an internal fundraising drive with the company matching employee contributions, has donated transportation to specialized disaster response teams flying from the mainland to Japan in support of relief and recovery efforts, and has sponsored other Hawaii fundraising events, including the “Kokua for Japan” live radio and telethon fundraiser, and the “Aloha for Japan” campaign.

About Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian has led all U.S. carriers in on-time performance for each of the past seven years (2004-2010) as reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation. In addition, consumer surveys by Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and Zagat have all ranked Hawaiian the top domestic airline offering flights to Hawaii. Hawaiian was also the nation’s highest-ranked carrier for service quality and performance in the prestigious Airline Quality Rating (AQR)
study for 2008 and 2009.

Now in its 82nd year of continuous service in Hawaii, Hawaiian is the largest provider of passenger air service to Hawaii from the state’s primary visitor markets on the U.S. mainland. Hawaiian offers nonstop service to Hawaii from more U.S. gateway cities (10) than any other airline, as well as service to South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Australia, American Samoa, and Tahiti. Hawaiian also provides approximately 150 daily jet flights between the
Hawaiian Islands.

Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. is a subsidiary of Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: HA). Additional information is available at www.HawaiianAirlines.com.


KITV: Follow Up To The Aloha Initiative

In the weeks after the twin disasters, Hawaii residents opened their hearts, and in some cases, their homes to people seeking shelter. The Aloha Initiative,, founded by Maui County’s Managing Director Keith Regan, found more than 140 Hawaii host families, willing to take Japanese families into their homes.

Watch video: http://www.kitv.com/video/28246531/detail.html#ixzz1PPSVKxnP


 

 

Photo (L-R) Managing Director Keith Regan, Theresa and Edward Thielk, Lynn Araki-Regan, Mayor Alan Arakawa


The Aloha Initiative Update
June 9, 2011

 

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii – The Aloha Initiative organizers today announced that over $35,000 has been received through the “Wear Jeans for Japan” fundraising effort held last month. Out of the total funds received, Mana Foods donated $20,000 through donations made by its customers, employees, and owners.

As a result of Mana Foods generating the most donations per employee, Mayor Alan Arakawa today presented the “Wear Jeans for Japan” award to Theresa and Edward Thielk, owners of Mana Foods.

In early May, Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa challenged County of Maui departments as well as Maui County businesses, schools and other entities to participate by encouraging their employees, students and members to participate by making a donation for The Aloha Initiative project when wearing jeans during a designated time period.

“We are so grateful to Mana Foods and the various entities for their generosity and support. Special thanks to Carden Academy and Mary Lynn Goode for helping to coordinate this unique and successful fundraising project as well as generating donations for The Aloha Initiative project,” said Tiffany Iida, president of the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui, the nonprofit organization which is leading the effort.

The Aloha Initiative program will provide citizens of Japan displaced by the March earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis with a home in the islands beginning in early July. Japan residents selected for the program will be done on the basis of greatest personal need and circumstance. Those chosen will be flown to Hawaii and spend up to 90 days with host families willing to take the displaced residents in and provide them with a warm, nurturing environment during their time of crisis. The Aloha Initiative will pay for ground and air transportation to and from Hawaii.

While over $115,000 has been raised to date, The Aloha Initiative Honorary Chair Mayor Alan Arakawa said that more monies are needed to support this overwhelming effort. Donations for monthly passes as well as donations from activity providers, grocers, and restaurants are currently being sought. Other ways the community can help include translation and transportation services.

To help in any way, call 280-1299 or visit alohainitiative.com.

###


FIRST HAWAIIAN BANK DONATES $25,000 TO ALOHA INITIATIVE;

 


BRANCHES TO SERVE AS COLLECTION POINTS FOR FUNDRAISING EFFORT

 

First Hawaiian Bank will donate $25,000 to The Aloha Initiative and all of its branches will serve as collection points for the effort, according to an announcement today by Ray Ono, First Hawaiian Bank vice chairman. Those interested in making a contribution to The Aloha Initiative may do so at any First Hawaiian Bank in Hawaii, Guam and CNMI through June 30, 2011.

The Aloha Initiative is a program of the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui to provide citizens of Japan displaced by the March earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis with a home in the islands. Japan residents selected for the program will be done on the basis of greatest personal need and circumstance. Those chosen will be flown to Hawaii and spend up to 90 days with host families willing to take the displaced residents in and provide them with a warm, nurturing environment during their time of crisis. The Aloha Initiative will pay for ground and air transportation to and from Hawaii.

“We plan to commence The Aloha Initiative trips in coming weeks and are in the process of matching Hawaii host families with at least 100 individuals of highest and greatest need,” according to Keith Regan, co-founder of The Aloha Initiative and past president of the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui. “Our overall goal is to raise $150,000 which is why we are extremely grateful for the support that First Hawaiian Bank is providing, not only the significant monetary donation but for allowing their branches to serve as collection points for this most important effort,” said Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa who is the Honorary Chair of The Aloha Initiative.

“Hawaii has strong relationships with the people of Japan and we are honored to support our friends as they continue to rebuild their lives,” Ono said.

First Hawaiian Bank was one of the local leaders of the post Japanese disaster fund raising efforts. On March 11th the bank formed the “Japan-Hawaii Relief Fund” in support of the relief efforts and contributed the first $100,000 to the Fund which eventually collected 100 million Yen. This amount was donated directly in Japan to the Japanese Red Cross Society. Additionally, the bank was one of the partners of Aloha for Japan, a partnership of business and government, to raise monies for the American Red Cross in support of the organizations relief efforts.

First Hawaiian Bank is Hawaii’s oldest and largest bank with over $15 billion in total assets and 63 branches throughout Hawaii, Guam and CMNI.


Press Resources here.

 


Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa Raises over $50,000 for Japan’s Relief Efforts

 

Relativity’s CEO Ryan Kavanaugh hosts charity chess game between the Mayor and Actor Owen Wilson.

May 5, 2011 – Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa and actor Owen Wilson met at friend Ryan Kavanaugh’s Maui home where the two squared off in a charity chess game. Kavanaugh raised the stakes by offering to donate $50,000 to a charity of their choice as the two played the best 2 out of 3 games; the Mayor captured Wilson’s King in a close match, clenching the final win.

“Japan was ravaged by such widespread destruction so we wanted to do our part. Ryan was a great sport hosting us at his home and Owen and I were able to raise $50,000 to benefit The Aloha Initiative, a project led by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui to provide citizens of Japan who have been displaced by the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis with a warm and welcome home,” says Arakawa, who last month participated in a tennis tournament for the American Red Cross, which raised $10,000 for Japan’s tsunami relief.

As mayor, Arakawa will continue to raise funds for his neighbors in Japan through The Aloha Initiative, a project in which he serves as Honorary Chair, and co-founded by individuals, including County Managing Director Keith Regan.

For more information about The Aloha Initiative, visit alohainitiative.com.


Mana Foods Announces Matching Funds for ‘Wear Jeans for Japan’

Paia, Maui- Mana Foods President Edward Thielk has announced that Mana Foods will participate in Wear Jeans for Japan by matching patron donations dollar for dollar up to $10,000. Mana Foods shoppers may donate from Friday, May 13, through Sunday, May 15.

 

“Mana Foods is pleased to team up with the community to help those devastated in Japan. It is always a worthwhile cause to help neighbors in need,” said Thielk.

Donations raised will go to support the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui’s Japan relief effort “The Aloha Initiative,” to provide citizens of Japan who have been displaced by the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis with a warm and welcome home,

Wear Jeans for Japan is being co-sponsored by the County of Maui and Carden Academy of Maui. During this event, people will pay for the privilege to dress casually by wearing jeans on May 13. Some county departments and local businesses have already taken up the challenge.

Other businesses which have signed up to participate on May 13 are First Hawaiian Bank, Macy’s, Kaiser Permanente clinics, TS Restaurants, Maui Electric, Maui County employees, Upcountry Dental Office, Christ the King School, Araki-Regan & Associates LLC, Maui County FCU, Maui Ocean Center, Ronald M Fukumoto Engineering Inc, Carlsmith Ball LLP, Old Republic Title & Escrow of Hawaii, Lahaina CrossFit, and Maui Boy Scouts.

Carden Academy’s 118 students conducted a similar effort in March, when students raised more than $1,000 in one day.

The organization on Maui that generates the most donations per employee, student or member will be recognized by Mayor Alan Arakawa at the Maui Matsuri festival May 14 at the University of Hawaii Maui College.

It’s not too late to participate! For more information, visit www.wearjeansforjapan.com or call 283-3570.


Mayor Alan Arakawa declares May 13th ‘Wear Jeans for Japan’ Day
Challenges Maui County Schools, Businesses & Other Organizations to Participate

Mayor Alan Arakawa proclaimed that Friday, May 13th as “Wear Jeans for Japan Day” in Maui County and challenges the community to join in this effort. The island-wide fundraising event is being co-sponsored with Carden Academy and will culminate at the 11th Annual Maui Matsuri on Saturday, May 14, 2011 at the University of Hawai`i – Maui College.

Arakawa was inspired after hearing about the “Jeans for Japan” fundraising effort by the 118 students of Carden Academy which took place on March 25, 2011. The students paid to wear their jeans to school and raised over $1,000 on just one day. “If Carden Academy can raise that much money in one day, think what the County of Maui can do,” said Arakawa. “I want to challenge our community, including businesses, nonprofit organizations, and schools, to participate in the May 13th fundraiser to support the relief efforts in Japan.”

Carden parent and international recording artist Mishka has offered to contribute to the cause by providing a free download of his song “One Tree” for event participants and is scheduled to perform at the Maui Matsuri. “Japan and my Japanese fans have shown me so much love and support over the years. It is a place that is very close to my heart.” said Mishka. “I offer this song from my heart for Japan’s healing.”

Donations raised from this fundraiser will go to support the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui’s Japan relief effort, “The Aloha Initiative.” This program raises funds to bring evacuees from the recent Japanese nuclear disaster to Maui and matches them with families who have volunteered to “open up their hearts and homes.” “The true aloha spirit is so evident on Maui. “To date, over 130 families have stepped forward to serve as host families to people who have either lost their homes or were forced to evacuate,” said Keith Regan, the project’s co-founder, who is currently in the Tohoku region of Japan to finalize details of the home stay, respite program.

“Despite being thousands of miles away from the disaster, the people of Hawaii have been deeply affected by the tragedy that has occurred throughout Japan,” said Mayor Arakawa. “We certainly appreciate the manner in which our community has shown concern for the people of Japan as well as action. We encourage everyone to join us in supporting the relief efforts of Japan through the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui, a 501(c)(3) organization serving the community for over 40 years.”


Businesses, groups and schools wanting to accept Arakawa’s challenge are asked to sign up by May 6, 2011. The organization on Maui which generates the most donations per employee, student, or member will be recognized by Mayor Arakawa at the Matsuri Festival on Saturday afternoon, May 14 at the University of Hawaii – Maui College.

Want to participate? It’s easy. Visit http://www.wearjeansforjapan.com and fill out the registration page for Maui. You can also read about the event on Facebook.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

The Aloha Initiative convenes community meeting on Oahu for prospective host families and other volunteers

The Aloha Initiative co-founder Keith Regan today announced that a community meeting is scheduled on Monday, May 9 at 5 p.m. in the basement hall of the Honpa Hongwanji Buddhist temple to provide information to prospective host families and other volunteers wanting to help with The Aloha Initiative, a project led by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui to provide citizens of Japan who have been displaced by the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis with a warm and welcome home.

Regan and Rev. Jeffrey Soga of Maui, along with Roy Tominaga of Honolulu returned from the Tohoku region on April 22 after meeting with government and nonprofit organization leaders to discuss The Aloha Initiative. A press conference was held in Fukushima City and, since then, the program has received TV and newspaper exposure in Japan. The tremendous publicity has resulted in The Aloha Initiative phone in Japan ringing off the hook with inquiries and requests to sign up for the program.

To date, over 140 families throughout Hawaii have signed up to open their hearts and homes to the people of Japan, and funds continue to be raised to help defray the transportation and insurance costs. “More host families and donations are needed to meet the demand,” said co-founder Lynn Araki-Regan.

For more information, visit www.AlohaInitiative.com or call 280-1299.


Aloha Initiative would give respite from disaster Host families offer displaced Japanese a place to get away

April 29, 2011

By LEE IMADA – News Editor (leeimada@mauinews.com) , The Maui News

WAILUKU – A call has been made for Mauians willing to open their homes to displaced victims of the quake and tsunami in Japan.

The Aloha Initiative, a project led by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui, has identified 60 to 100 people interested in escaping their devastated lands and their spartan lives in unheated shelters to live for a couple of months with residents in Hawaii, said Lynn Araki-Regan, a co-founder of the group.

“It’s basically a respite program,” she explained. “They are very sensitive to it not being viewed as a vacation, which it is not. It is strictly a respite program.”

So far, 130 host families have been identified statewide, the bulk from Maui, but the Aloha Initiative could use more, said Araki-Regan. They could begin hosting Japanese adults and children by the end of May or early June, she added.

Community meetings have been organized for prospective host families and other volunteers on Sunday, beginning at 3 p.m. at Kahului Hongwanji Mission’s Social Hall, and Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Door of Faith Church.

The meetings will include a presentation by Dr. Al Arensdorf, a Red Cross trainer in disaster mental health, who will discuss “normal emotional reactions” to earthquake/tsunami disasters; how to use an evidence-based intervention called “Psychological First Aid”; and tips on how to cope and to recover by being resilient.

Araki-Regan’s husband, Keith Regan, the county’s managing director; the Rev. Jeffrey Soga of Kahului Hongwanji Mission; and Roy Tominaga, of Honolulu, visited the Tohoku area in northern Honshu island earlier this month, presenting gifts from Maui, explaining the home-stay program to Japanese officials and drumming up publicity. The contingent met with Fukushima City Mayor Takanori Seto, Miyagi Prefecture Councilor Toshiaki Sugawara and Sendai City Deputy Mayor Nobuyoshi Inaba.

The Aloha Initiative, which has raised more than $150,000, will pay for the cost of getting the quake/tsunami victims to Hawaii. Their stays will last as long as three months, the longest their visas will allow, according to Araki-Regan, She added that the group is looking at ways to extend the stays.

Ideally, host families will house, feed and transport the Japanese visitors for the entire three months, but accommodations will be made for and assistance offered to host families who cannot fulfill all the needs or the length of stay, said Araki-Regan.

So far, Hawaii families have offered bedrooms in their homes, as Araki-Regan’s family will, vacation rentals or ohana units.

Japanese-speaking residents have offered to give “Japanese 101” or basic Japanese language classes, and health insurance will be purchased for the arrivals. The Aloha Initiative also would like to arrange for activities and educational opportunities for the Japanese visitors, she said.

Araki-Regan wanted to assure prospective host families that there is no risk of radiation exposure. The Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant was severely damaged by the tsunami generated from the quake and was spewing radioactive material that has forced the evacuation of residents living nearby.

“It’s not a risk,” Araki-Regan said, adding that her group has been in touch with Red Cross and other experts.

Those coming to Hawaii would be families, single parents with children and high school or college students.

“There is a wide variety of people wanting to come over,” she said.

The victims of the quake/tsunami who will be coming to Hawaii are a minute part of the 475,000 people displaced, Araki-Regan noted. Many have lost family members and their property and belongings and have been living in shelters for nearly a month.

She recounted how her husband, during his visit to Japan, met a woman with 3- and 2-year-old children, who had lost her husband in the quake/tsunami. She had no job and had nowhere to go.

“More host families and donations are needed to meet the demand,” said Araki-Regan.

To sign up to be a host family or to volunteer in other ways, go to the website www.AlohaInitiative.com or call 280-1299.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Aloha Initiative Team returns from Japan; community meetings scheduled for prospective host families and other volunteers

Founding Member Keith Regan in his recent trip to Japan.

Wailuku, HI, USA: The Aloha Initiative co-founder Keith Regan today announced that community meetings are scheduled on Sunday, May 1, at 3 p.m. at Kahului Hongwanji Mission social hall and Tuesday, May 3, at 6:30 p.m. at Door of Faith Church to provide information to prospective host families and other volunteers wanting to help with The Aloha Initiative, a project led by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui to provide citizens of Japan who have been displaced by the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis with a warm and welcome home.

 

The meetings will include a presentation by Dr. Al Arensdorf, a Red Cross trainer in disaster mental health and in psychological first aid, on: (1) what to expect – the “normal emotional reactions” to earthquake/tsunami disasters; (2) how to use an evidence-based intervention called, “Psychological First Aid,” both for host families and disaster workers and for persons displaced by disaster; and (3) tips for both adults and children as to how to cope and how to recover by being resilient.

Regan of Wailuku and Rev. Jeffrey Soga of Kahului, along with Roy Tominaga of Honolulu returned from the Tohoku region last Friday after meeting with government and nonprofit organization leaders, including Fukushima City Mayor Takanori Seto, Miyagi Prefecture Councilor Toshiaki Sugawara, and Sendai City Deputy Mayor Nobuyoshi Inaba to discuss The Aloha Initiative. A press conference was held in Fukushima City and, since then, the program has received TV and newspaper exposure in Japan. The tremendous publicity has resulted in The Aloha Initiative phone in Japan ringing off the hook with inquiries and requests to sign up for the program.

To date, over 130 families throughout Hawaii have signed up to open their hearts and homes to the people of Japan, and over $150,000 in pledges has been received to help defray the transportation and insurance costs. “More host families and donations are needed to meet the demand,” said co-founder Lynn Araki-Regan.

“We are so grateful for the many students from various schools such as Emmanuel Lutheran School, King Kekaulike High School, St. Anthony Junior-Senior High School, St. Anthony Grade School, Kamehameha Schools – Maui Campus, Pomaikai Elementary School, Kansha Preschool, Wailuku Hongwanji Preschool, Kahului Hongwanji Preschool, and Baldwin High School as well as members of our Maui Nui community who took time out of their busy schedules to use their creative skills in doing scrunchies, headbands, necklaces, artwork, poetry, and other expressions of hope for the children of the Tohoku region of Japan,” said Regan. “When we presented the gifts to those living in the extremely chilly shelters, they were extremely touched.”

To sign up to volunteer, visit www.AlohaInitiative.com or call 280-1299.


FROM MAUI NEWS – APRIL 10, 2011 EDITION

Aloha Initiative seeks art, messages

WAILUKU – Maui youngsters are invited to submit art, poems and other messages of aloha and encouragement to the children of Japan, for a project of the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui.

Submissions should be made on standard letter-sized paper, and can be handed in by Thursday to Keith Regan in the Mayor’s Office on the 9th floor of the Kalana O Maui building.

The group is also seeking donations of aloha-print hair “scrunchies” to give to young girls in Japan.

Society board members Regan and the Rev. Jeffrey Soga will depart Friday for the disaster-stricken Tohaku region of Japan to share information about the group’s “Aloha Initiative,” which connects displaced Japanese nationals with host families in Hawaii.

Regan and Soga will deliver the artwork and messages to children in the disaster areas.


 

Maui TV News: Maui residents hold vigil for Japan

As our hearts go out to those affected by the lingering catastrophes in Japan, last night hundreds came together to show their support. A candlelight vigil on the great lawn of the UH-Maui College campus was sponsored by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui, the county and the college. The interfaith service was also a place where locals and visitors were able to make donations to aid in the relief efforts in Japan. At the event we also caught up with organizers of “The Aloha Initiative,” an effort to help displaced Japanese families in a very personal way.

“‘Aloha’ means affection, love, peace, compassion and mercy, the feelings and emotions we want to convey to the people of Japan. Our goal is to assemble a community of people who are willing to open their hearts and the homes to some of the displaced in case they need our support,” said event organizer Lynn Araki-Regan. We’ve got the details at mauitvnews.com on how you can help with Aloha Initiative, as well as the other support programs designed to speed healing in Japan.

www.mauitvnews.com


Press Resources here: