Dinner honoring Kusaka raises over $25,000 for nonprofit group

“A Legacy of Aloha,” an event honoring Mayor Maryanne W. Kusaka, raised over $25,000 Sunday for the Ambassadors of Aloha program.

The Grand Ballroom of the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club on Kalapaki Beach was packed for the event, Kusaka said.

The evening included food, entertainment, and nonstop accolades for Kusaka.

At Kusaka’s request, the tribute to her eight years in office was a fund-raiser for the Ambassadors of Aloha program, which supports outstanding young people pursuing careers in culture, the arts, and the visitor industry.

Tickets were $100 apiece, $70 of which was tax-deductible. Donations are still being accepted for the Ambassadors of Aloha program, and can be mailed to 5151 Nonou Rd., Kapa’a, HI 96746.

Shirley T. Akita, Jean K. Nakamura and Jean E. Sato were the tribute event chairpersons.

The Ambassadors of Aloha program was formed during Kusaka’s time as elected leader of the county of Kaua’i, and has taken as its vision Kusaka’s vision established during her first term in office:

“Kaua’i, where the aloha spirit, its people, our quality of life, the preservation and enhancement of our unique life style, is kilohana, above the rest.”

“Kilohana” actually refers to the outside, decorated sheet of tapa over plain, white bed coverings, hence the extended meanings of “best,” “superior,” or “excellent.”

The Ambassadors of Aloha program is one of the lasting programs of the Kusaka administration she is proud of, with others including the Ho’olokahi community volunteer beautification program, and another she was instrumental in forming that is to her knowledge the only community endowment in the world.

The two-year-old Kaua’i Aloha Endowment, a fund planned for perpetuity, will use interest generated from donations to the fund to award grants to organizations and individuals who help battered women and children on the island, are practicing environmental stewardship of Kaua’i, and otherwise have the island’s welfare in mind.

Interest from the endowment would also fund culture and the arts, said Kusaka, one of the founding members of the endowment’s board of advisors.

Another of the original advisors was the late Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, founder and leader of the Kaua’i Hindu Monastery in Wailua Homesteads.

He was known as “Gurudeva” to friends and followers, and it was his success in and knowledge of the workings of endowments that was tapped by the Kaua’i Aloha Endowment.

Kusaka said that once the endowment reaches $250,000, some of the smaller grant requests could be funded.

The endowment, simply, is to forward an island-wide vision with the theme of “Aloha, It’s Kaua’i’s Spirit.” That theme emerged as the result of months of visioning meetings attended by business, government and spiritual leaders.

The printed purpose of the fund reads: “The Kaua’i Aloha Endowment in collaboration with the Hawai’i Community Foundation was established to ensure that resources will forever be available to preserve that which we most cherish about Kaua’i: Her natural beauty, culture, and the spirit of her people.”

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