KILAUEA — Winds of change are blowing at the Anaina Hou community center, with main financial support bowing out and new staff picking up a renewed focus on local events.
This year will be the first full year the nonprofit has stood on its own, said Jill Lowry, who took the post of Anaina Hou executive director about six weeks ago.
“Training wheels are off, and here we go,” she said.
Anaina Hou was funded by the Bill and Joan Porter through the Porter Trust. Bill Porter was as a businessman who helped found E-Trade, the first electronic-trading platform. The two had a home in Princeville and a home in California, and had an invested interest in organic farming and connecting the community on the North Shore.
Bill Porter died in 2015 and by January 2019, Joan Porter made the decision to leave the island and push Anaina Hou to become self-sustaining.
“After you’ve supported something for so long, there’s always the intent it will become self-sustainable,” Lowry said. “After Bill passed, Joan was ready to leave the island.”
It all happened synchronistically, Anaina Hou staff says. They’d been gearing up for stepping out on their own financially, and Bill Porter’s passing made for a natural break in their financial support.
“It wasn’t a surprise,” Lowry said.
Now, just barely making it through the first quarter, Anaina Hou has faced windstorms that destroyed plants and a few minor structures in the botanical garden and downed trees over the Wai Koa Loop Trail.
But, Anaina Hou is also hosting community functions weekly, including live music and concert nights, trivia nights, fundraising dinners and other special events. Renting out the Porter Pavilion or other spaces throughout the community center to cover the bills, and fundraising, is taking care of the rest.
To sustain itself into the future, though, Anaina Hou needs a plan to secure endowments and raise funds — and Lowry says they’re taking 2019 to formulate that plan.
“Because of the Porter presence and funding, there has never been a full fundraising strategic plan here,” Lowry said. “This is the year to get the ducks in a row, get organized, and not start any new projects.”
Their latest project — the Anaina Hou playground — is still wrapping up, though, with the last pieces being grading the parking area, putting in the sidewalk, and installing drainage around the perimeter. The interior of the playground is finished, with the exception of one or two play structure pieces that are on property waiting to be installed.
And though it’s wrapping up, Anaina Hou still needs to raise about $50,000 in order to cover costs for the playground. Initially, the organization raised $650,000 to pay for the project — of that the Porters donated $150,000 — after that money was raised, another $75,000 was added to the overall cost to pay for labor.
“A couple of different times, the cost of the playground increased,” Lowry said. “With any building project, you’re always a little bit surprised that it ends up costing more than anticipated.”
In addition to working out a strategic plan to garner donations and funding, Anaina Hou plans to seek grant and will be developing an annual giving program as well as doing endowments and naming opportunities for fixtures at the community center.
The effort is all to keep Anaina Hou thriving.
“Everyone’s pretty excited, though it’s a little nerve-wracking,” Lowry said. “You don’t have the safety net, per se, but we’ve got a few staff changes and new energy.”
Jessica Else, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.