POIPU — When you are helping your brothers and sisters, how do you say no, asked Gerald Shintaku, president and CEO of the Hawaii Foodbank Thursday at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa.
Shintaku was the keynote speaker at the Kauai United Way 2017 campaign launch where campaign co-chairs Ron Wiley and Peter Wiederoder announced the goal of $700,000.
“When you give to the Kauai United Way, it is very safe, and your contribution is scrutinized so it goes where it needs to go,” said councilman Mel Rapozo. “I served as a board member for the Kauai United Way, and I watched the process. Every thing that everyone does helps — a lot.”
Shintaku, of Oahu, said he became familiar with the Kauai people when he came here to set up the first Star Market at the Kukui Grove.
“People were very generous and supportive,” Shintaku said. “I came back to help repair the market after it was damaged by the hurricane, and the people were very generous and giving.”
After moving to Kraft Foods, Shintaku said he continued to see the strength of Kauai’s people when Kauai High School’s athletic program outshined some of the bigger high school programs on Oahu through the Kraft Foods’ “Save and Score” program.
He got to see the other side of contributions after assuming the president’s role for the Hawaii Foodbank nine months ago.
“I learned the meaning of dedication and commitment,” Shintaku said. “For nine months, I was surrounded by people who are so appreciative of the work you do. They are so grateful; they don’t complain of why something is not there, or why we don’t have a certain color. They are happy with what we at Hawaii Foodbank is able to provide them.”
He said the work being done by the Hawaii Foodbank, Kauai Branch is a “labor of love,” distributing more than 1.2 million pounds of food, annually.
“That breaks down to about 100,000 pounds of food per month, with just five people, and volunteers,” Shintaku said. “And, that’s up 9 percent from last year. The Kauai branch did this work with more than 200 service hours from volunteers.”
Shintaku said the next person who needs help might be you.
“There are unanticipated things happening in life,” Shintaku said. “A missed paycheck, several missed payments. Things happen, and the next person who might need help could very well be you.”
To donate: www.kauaiunitedway.org