Archive for the ‘Community’ category

Gratitude and nurturing generosity

December 1, 2020

“The opposite of generosity is not greed, but fear.”

I had never considered that the lack of generosity could arise from a fear of scarcity, of not having enough, of going without. Scarcity is a real thing, an invisible norm, a mindset that prevents us from recognizing our gifts.

And the opposite of scarcity may not be abundance – it may be sufficiency, having enough to meet our physical, social, and emotional needs.

A few weeks ago, I attended a webinar, “Gratitude and Nurturing Generosity” with Melissa Spas of the Lake Institute and Kent Siladi, Philanthropy Director for the United Church of Christ.

They had a casual, illuminating “talk story” that changed the way I thought about giving and philanthropy.

Gratitude helps us appreciate the gifts we have and the gifts we have been given, they shared. When you realize that you may not be rich, but you have enough, you are able to open yourself to generosity.

You are able to envision doing more.

And you are able to ask others to join you in doing more.

What does having “enough” look like for you? What should you be giving thanks for in this moment?

Being thankful

November 24, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving.

Happy Thankfulness Day.

Oprah Winfrey reminds us: “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught me many things this year, and one of the most important lessons is the reminder to be thankful, to appreciate what we have and the people who are in our lives.

Sometimes we’re not satisfied with what have and we look for something new, something more, something different.

Often what we have is more than enough.

And when we share our thankfulness with others, we can magnify our appreciation and joy.

Here are three things that you can do today to strengthen a mindset of thankfulness and gratitude:

* A surprise thank-you. Choose someone you know who works hard, who has been isolated by the pandemic, or who doesn’t receive a lot of recognition. It could be your mail delivery person, a bus driver, a neighbor, an old school friend, a teacher who made a big impact on you, or your favorite waiter or cashier, bank teller or librarian. On an ordinary day, surprise them with a phone call, an email, or a letter letting them know you’re thinking of them.

* Thankful tree. Draw a tree trunk on a large piece of cardboard (from an appliance box) or poster board; or use a real indoor tree. Cut out shapes of leaves, flowers, nuts, or fruits; use tags or even ribbons. Everyone should write down at least one thing they are thankful for, and hang it on the tree. I still have a tree that my family made years ago, and I think I’ll add more leaves to it this year.

* Thankful reminders. Create a daily alarm on your phone, tablet, or computer that asks, “What are you thankful for today?” Ask family and writes to send you an email with three things they are thankful for – and then send it to them during next year’s Thanksgiving. At home, find a simple jar and fill it with colorful slips of paper noting things you are thankful for or with small tokens that have meaning to you (such as a button, a leaf, a flower, a picture).

Thank you for reading Better Hawaii, for your encouragement, for being open to different points of view, and for your optimism.

Who are you thankful for? How can you show your thankfulness?

Fundraising during a pandemic

October 6, 2020

During this pandemic, so many people are struggling and in need of food, jobs, and healthcare. It may seem uncomfortable or insensitive to host a fundraiser or ask for money.

This is exactly the reason that fundraisers need to continue. Nonprofits are not raising money for themselves; they are raising it for their beneficiaries, now and in the future.

Why fundraise during a pandemic?

To show appreciation

It makes people feel valued. We can show our appreciation and gratitude for people and organizations who are committed to hope, healing, and service in Hawai’i.

To motivate

Recognition motivates people. We’re not here to become wealthy… we’re doing good because we believe in helping people. And being recognized is a small way that we can show our appreciation – and inspire others.

To celebrate

It’s an opportunity to celebrate. This gives us a reason to relax, have fun, and enjoy fellowship with others. Though we are physically distant and may experience Zoom fatigue, it reminds us that we have much to be thankful for.

To reflect

It’s a time to reflect on what we can accomplish when we work together. We are not alone, and together we can face challenges.

To remind

During this pandemic, the work that nonprofits do is more important than ever.

To offer an opportunity to give

Giving makes us feel good! It’s a way that those who support the mission can walk together.

There are many ways to give. Giving is also about volunteering your time, sharing your knowledge, and spreading kindness. Not just during a pandemic, but every day.

Mahalo to all of you – people helping people, sharing aloha, in big ways and small.

A letter to my pre-COVID-19 self

September 8, 2020

Dear pre-COVID-19 self,


2020 will be full of uncertainty and unexpected challenges. It will begin like any other year, but it will be extraordinary.


Every generation lives through hardships, whether it’s a natural disaster, war, or plague. I don’t know what challenges you will face, but I know it will change everything.


So here are some things I want you should know:


Take care of what you can. You can choose how you react to challenges, how you treat your family, how you speak with others, and how you care for yourself.


Believe that other people are doing their best. They may be having a hard day too. They have to follow “the rules” even if they don’t like them, and the people who make those rules usually have good intentions.


Decide what is most important to you. Sometimes your life is filled with so many distractions that you can lose sight of the important things. Think about the things you planned to do “one day” or “next time.” What can you do “right now”?


Let go of things out of your control. There will always be things that are unfair, things you can’t change but just have to live with, like the weather, or certain health conditions, or a genetic predisposition, or your family. But you have control over other things, so…


Take a stand for what you believe in. Out of your control doesn’t mean you are powerless. Whether you sign a well-written petition or write a persuasive letter, talk respectfully with a friend or march peacefully in a protest, or make informed choices when you vote… you can change opinions, you can challenge ideas, and you can raise expectations.


Change starts with you. Someone else won’t change their beliefs, their habits, or their prejudices on their own. Show them that it can be done, show them how to do it, propose solutions, and be a role model and mentor.


And when things are back to “normal,” keep the changes that makes things better. You don’t have to back to the way things were. Take the best changes and make them part of your everyday life.


How will you react to the coming challenges? What will you write to your future self?


With aloha,

Your future self

Re-imagining libraries after COVID-19

July 7, 2020

I miss going to the library and walking into a room full of books I haven’t read. I miss browsing the shelves for newly-released books. I miss talking to the librarians at the circulation desk as I check-out.

As I was making an appointment for “Library Take-out” to pick up books, I wondered, What will libraries look like after COVID-19?

Hawaii’s public libraries have already started “Library Take-Out,” allowing library patrons to reserve an appointment to pick up books they put on hold. They already have eBooks that we can borrow, and they are recording storytimes for children. Even the Summer Reading Program is virtual this year.

In the “new normal,” how else will libraries adapt?

* Self check-out. Like retailers and fast-food restaurants, one idea is to create self-checkout kiosks, so that library patrons can check out their own books. Each book already has a barcode, and we would need hand sanitizing stations, more barcode scanners, and a small printer to print out book receipts with due dates.

* Book drive-through. New libraries might be designed with a drive-through so that people could pick up and return books without actually stepping into a library. Or there might be a conveyer belt carrying books from the circulation desk to the drive-through. Or imagine a roller-blading librarian coming out to your car with a stack of books (just kidding).

* Computer cubicles. Instead of open floor plans, we may need to return to computer cubicles for added safety and privacy. We could also use computer cubicles to hold classes about using technology and setting up video conference equipment. Imagine local teens teaching kupuna!

* Social distancing at our feet. Maybe we can install carpets or tile that have geometric patterns that subtly reinforce social distancing, such as large blocks of color for seating and ribbons of color that create walkways. This would turn it into a game for kids to follow social distancing guidelines.

* Book warehousing. We may consider keeping only new release books and children’s books at each library, and storing all other books in book “warehouses.” This would free up more space at each library to create more meeting spaces and possibly create…

* Video chat booths. For people who don’t have access to technology or a private place to have online appointments, we might install “video chat booths” with air purifiers. These clear plexiglass partitions would let people have private, secure video conferences and appointments with doctors, counselors, financial advisors, or lawyers.

How often do you go to the library? What do you imagine libraries will look like next year and in the next five years?