North Kohala Community Resource Center is a three-year-old non-profit organization operating in the very rural northern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii. The community there is called North Kohala and is large in land (133 square miles) and small in population (6500 people in 1800 households). They are isolated by ocean, mountains and desert and are a blend of seven diverse cultures- Hawaiian, Japanese, Filipino, Puerto Rican, Chinese, Portuguese and Caucasian. Like all small communities, opportunities for community development abound. This volunteer driven Center was founded on the premise that many of the community improvement projects have been successfully organized by volunteers. To put it simply,they help volunteer groups plan successful projects, teach them how to write successful proposals and find appropriate funders. In addition, they sponsor thirty-three projects to date–far exceeding initial expectations.
This past year has been exciting and busy for the Resource Center. The number of projects they support has grown to 33. During the year, they have worked with 38 project coordinators on a wide range of issues, and have witnessed the work of over 2,500 volunteers giving their time and energy to the community through these projects. All of this is made possible by the people, businesses and grant funders who support the Center.
Keeping the community informed about the Center’s work is very important. They talk to people who live in the community almost every day to give information about the Center and what they do. They also plan a newsletter with the hope that the community may stay current with the Center’s opportunities and projects.
One such project is the Kohala Country Fair. There were over one hundred volunteers and attendance was in excess of 5,0000. The 20th annual one day fair was a huge success during the its 2004 run. In addition to being a great day for the community, the fair raised more than $11,000 from the business community to help support the center. The Center also has a Read to Feed program where the Heifer International Curriculum is taught to eighth graders and fifth graders to learn more about world hunger as they improve their reading skills. Kohala Senior Citizens Club is where Kohala High School Seniors interview the kupuna to record their oral histories. This project culminated with a holiday luncheon at the Orchid Mauna Lani. Students were honored for their volunteer efforts. This collaboration was a milestone in bringing youth and elders together in the community.
Some other projects that the Center participates in are the Kukui Garden Restoration, Kohala Coalition Against Drugs (KCAD), Kohala Art Academy and the Kind Kamehameha Statue Maintenance.