Darcie Yukimura is the senior philanthropic services officer with the Hawaii Community Foundation on Kauai. She grew up in Lihue and graduated from Kauai High School. While always busy with a long list of responsibilities, she took time to field some questions last week from The Garden Island.
The Garden Island: Can you explain what the foundation does?
Darcie Yukimura: The Hawaii Community Foundation helps to amplify the power of giving. For the past 99 years, we have had the privilege of transforming the generosity of individuals, businesses and families into lasting community change. As the largest grantmaker in the state, we distribute more than $46 million each year across our islands to tackle tough problems and build stronger communities. This also includes over $5 million in scholarships to help Hawaii’s students achieve a higher education.
TGI: What is your job title and what do you do there?
DY: My position at Hawaii Community Foundation is senior philanthropic officer. Our Kauai team also includes Uri Martos, philanthropic services assistant. Our role is to partner with Kauai’s nonprofit sector and generous givers so that we can make the greatest impact in our communities and achieve our shared goal of creating lasting change on our island.
TGI: How did you get your start with the community foundation?
DY: I got my start at Hawaii Community Foundation in Honolulu. I was impressed with the work of the foundation throughout the state and the leadership of Kelvin Taketa, the president. Prior to that I was with a private school and a state department in a communications role.
TGI: Was there anything, anyone, specifically who influenced you growing up?
DY: My parents were always very active in community — my whole family, actually. Early on, they impressed upon me that we need to give back to the community that gives us so much.
TGI: Can you talk a little about some of the changes you’ve seen here over the years?
DY: The changes we’ve seen are probably not specific to Kauai or other small communities. What I see is great opportunity to come together around our central values. With an island people who have so much heart and who take action to help one another, there is an opportunity to focus on critical needs facing our children families and environment. I’m proud to be from Kauai and blessed to be able to raise my family here in a community with such aloha in abundance. I hope then we can continue for generations to come.
TGI: What difference do you see the foundation making in the community?
DY: I see Hawaii Community Foundation’s positive impact as both up close and long range. For instance, we helped a young woman to start a scholarship fund with money she earned waiting tables. It was inspiring to see how she showed herself and those around her that anyone can do something to make a difference.
Her scholarship fund then went on to benefit a high school senior that prevailed against all odds which include homelessness, hunger and instability. This young student will now change her family’s future for generations to come. That’s the kind of amazing work that the foundation does — we connect people and causes in our community and it enhances the lives of those who give and enriches the lives of those in need.
TGI: What is the best, most enjoyable part of your job?
DY: I have the privilege to work with remarkable and generous donors who have a heart for the community. And on the other hand, I get to bring good news of needed funds to the people who are doing the hard work of making our community a better place.
Even when we are tackling tough problems, knowing that there are incredibly dedicated people who are willing to partner together and with HCF to create a solution makes it very satisfying.
TGI: What’s the most challenging?
DY: What is most challenging is actually summing up the work of the Hawaii Community Foundation. We do so much in so many areas of the community, but we don’t do it alone. We work with Kauai’s leaders, donors, and community members to bring solutions to our critical needs.
TGI: How can people here help the foundation carry out its mission?
DY: Everyone can ask themselves, what kind of legacy do I want to leave? It starts with examining your values and interests. And Hawaii Community Foundation can help anyone — an individual, a family, a business — to identify the difference they want to make and the most effective and smartest way to do it. Anyone can make a lasting gift. It’s really about what matters most to you and what can we do together to make our island in a better place to live.
TGI: Is Kauai generous when it comes to giving?
DY: Kauai is the most generous! Actually, year over year Kauai gives most often and volunteer the most among households throughout the state.
We may not be the highest in the state for income but Kauai people give of what they have, support one another and are always willing to help. That speaks volumes about the aloha in our community. This information was just released as part of the 2015 Hawaii Community Foundation Giving Study.
TGI: Have you seen how that generosity has impacted Kauai?
DY: I’ve absolutely seen this generosity play out in our community. Most people think that to create a charitable fund or a scholarship means you have to be a multimillionaire. But in actuality most of Kauai’s donors are folks you see every day in the grocery store.
The way our generosity plays out is that we all reach out to meet the needs around us. The Hawaii Community Foundation simply helps to facilitate and amplify that good will.