Meeting the Challenges facing the Hawaii Okinawa Center

2005 Board of Directors approve Capital Fundraising Campaign


Completing the Dream . . .

It has been fifteen years since we opened the Hawaii Okinawa Center. We have fulfilled our dream, to create a center which perpetuates and honors the Okinawan cultural heritage in Hawaii and for the past fifteen years, our Hawaii Okinawa Center has educated, entertained and supported Hawaii’s community.

The 2005 HUOA Board of Directors is concerned that in the near future, HUOA’s current revenue income will not be sufficient to cover both operating cash and non-cash expenses (depreciation). Thus, to keep the Hawaii Okinawa Center viable, the HUOA Board of Directors felt it necessary to address the future needs of our Center, so that ten – fifteen – twenty years from now, your children and grandchildren will be able to understand and learn about the proud legacy it represents and teaches. The challenge, that faced the 2005 Board was to find a dependable source of income that would provide for the needed financial support the Center requires in the future.



The Hawaii Okinawa Center began as a dream………a vision of a cultural center dedicated to the Issei to help us preserve, promote and perpetuate the Okinawan culture.


In 1986, an ambitious campaign to raise funds to build the Hawaii Okinawa Center was introduced to the public. Heading this campaign was Albert T. Teruya, co-founder of Times Supermarket, Ltd. and serving as Honorary Chairperson was Lynne Waihee, First Lady of the State of Hawaii.

Contributions ranging from $2 to $700,000 poured in from individuals, clubs, businesses, corporations and foundations. Over nine million dollars was raised to erect the Center, five million of which was raised through the efforts of our member clubs.

Through the commitment, support and belief of over 5,000 donors the Hawaii Okinawa Center was built on 2.5 acres in Waipio Gentry. Designed by architect Maurice Yamasato, our Center features two buildings in the shape of a turtle, which, in Okinawan culture, symbolizes long life. Traditional Okinawan kawara clay tiles, a gift from the people of Okinawa, line the roofs of both buildings. Two beautifully landscaped gardens grace the Center. Maintained by dedicated volunteers, the gardens provide a beautiful backdrop for weddings, family gatherings and peaceful thought.

The Albert T. and Wallace T. Teruya Pavilion, named for the founders of Times Supermarket, Ltd., is a multifunctional auditorium/theater and banquet hall featuring a theater stage and professional lighting and sound systems. The Teruya Pavilion is the setting for many cultural performances, conferences, ceremonies, banquets and receptions. Last year, the Pavilion, also known as the Legacy Ballroom, hosted our Children’s Summer Day Camp, our Kariyushi Variety Program, which honors our senior entertainers, many Okinawan concerts and our RedDirt Storytelling Festival.

The Yeiko and Kameko Higa Building, named in memory of the Issei parents of Charles and Francis Higa, founders of Zippy’s restaurants, houses the administrative offices of the HUOA, a display area for Okinawan artifacts, historical and cultural materials, a library of books on Okinawa and things Okinawan and a gift shop. Classes held in this building include uchinaaguchi (Okinawan language), ikebana (flower arrangement), sanshin and taiko.

Our Okinawa Center stands as a living, thriving community center, museum and theater where the Okinawan culture is preserved, promoted and perpetuated for future generations. It takes many volunteers and donors to run and sustain the Center and its programs. For the past several years, the HUOA has struggled to meet the daily financial challenges facing the Hawaii Okinawa Center. Our annual fund drive “Preserving Our Legacy,” Okinawan Festival, craft fairs, rental income, donations, and special events have allowed the association to maintain the Hawaii Okinawa Center, the HUOA programs and staff.


A question now arises: Will our current efforts be enough to sustain our beautiful legacy five, ten and twenty years from now? This is a challenge the HUOA Board has wrestled with for fifteen years, a challenge which they have not been able to effectively address, until today.


Our Center is celebrating its 15 th Anniversary in June. Through the efforts of our volunteers and staff, the Center has weathered very well. Visitors and members alike are impressed by the beauty of the buildings and gardens. But, like all of us, with age comes new problems and concerns. As the Center gets older, the HUOA Board continues to try to find solutions to the following major concerns:


· Will we have the funding to repaint, re-roof, or refurbish the Center?


· How will we fund the repair, replacement or upgrade of machinery and equipment if we have a breakdown?


· What happens if our annual fundraising efforts cannot raise enough money to maintain the Center?


· Do we have the funding to hire professionals when our volunteer club members can no longer perform the work at the Center?


Meeting the challenges facing the Hawaii Okinawa Center


Two years ago, then HUOA President George Tamashiro, was approached to see if the HUOA would consider purchasing the vacant property across the Hawaii Okinawa Center. Concerned about the Center and realizing the property could be a potential investment or revenue generating commercial property, President Tamashiro assembled a small group of skilled professional volunteers to investigate the feasibility and potential of such an investment.

Last September, the committee reported their preliminary findings to the HUOA Board of Directors and asked our Board to seriously consider this major capital fund campaign project as a means of meeting our future financial demands.


On January 10, 2005 the HUOA Board of Directors voted to support this important campaign and has initially committed $300,000 for the committee (referred to as the Land Acquisition Committee) to continue due diligence, coordinate the capital fund drive and negotiations for land acquisition. (Click here to view the resolution in its entirety)


The following timeline was presented to our Board of Directors to serve as a guideline for our fundraising efforts. This timeline is based on both the purchase of the property and the construction of improvements on site.


2 Year Goal: $4.5 Million


For purchase of land and allow design and construction of the first phase rental facility to proceed. As additional funds are received in years 3 to 5, more rental facilities could be developed.


5 Year Goal: $9 Million in total through fund raising dollars and/or private investments.


(Our Committee will be providing additional information and plans in the forthcoming weeks to set in motion this very important fundraising campaign.)

THE GOAL . . .

Do you believe that the Hawaii Okinawa Center is important to preserve Okinawan culture for you, your children and grandchildren ten years from now?


Can we raise 9 million dollars?


We can do it! With the help and cooperation of all Uchinanchus and Uchinanchus at heart, our Board of Directors believe that this goal is achievable, if our fundraising program is planned and executed properly. Similar to the beginning of the 1986 campaign, a lot of planning and organizing still has to be done.


In taking our Dream to the next level.....we need your help, your commitment, your belief, that the Hawaii Okinawa Center is important to us and Hawaii’s community.


Chibayabira – Let’s go for it!!!

This article is from the Uchinanchu, January/February 2005 issue.


Last Updated: February 11, 2005