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Sunday, March 9, 2008
$50k gift helps launch Arc of Hilo capital campaign
Hawaii Tribune Herald

The Arc of Hilo is using a $50,000 donation from KTA Super Stores to launch a $1 million campaign to build a new addition to its training and community center along Waianuenue Ave in Hilo.

The $50,000 gift was given in memory of KTA founders Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi.

The Arc of Hilo is dedicated to enhancing the lives of the island of Hawaii's people with disabilities. Serving the Big Island since 1954, the Arc of Hilo provides employment training, employment, adult daycare, arts and craft programming and basic life skills training for people with disabilities.
The Arc of Hilo is currently employs more than 200 people with more than half of this force being people with disabilities. The award-winning, tax-exempt nonprofit is led by Mike Gleason, a recent recipient of the Ho'okele Award for excellence in nonprofit management. Gleason joined the Arc in 2000 and has provided creative leadership as a social entrepreneur.

"Our goal is to be nearly self-sufficient through contract services providing earned income and jobs for people with disabilities," said Gleason.

When Gleason started, the organization depended upon government contracts and grants and donations for 75 percent of its budget. Today, more than half of the Arc's budget comes from its own earned income.

The Arc of Hilo performs commercial services for a fee to many area business and government entities. They provide grounds keeping, commercial laundry, the Boiling Pots Nursery, the HI-5 Redemption and Recycling, the C&D Resale Store and commercial janitorial services. Commercial clients include a broad range of county, state, federal, and local business offices and of course the island-wide HI-5 program. Many of the island's people with disabilities want to be productive contributing citizens, and the new facility will allow the Arc to almost double the number of jobs from 230 to 459.

Many organizations will be able to use the Training and Community Center for meetings and activities, such as the Shriners' children's health outreach, Special Olympics, Rotary clubs, and other civic organizations. The facility will encompass 17,600 square feet and has been designed by Scott Fleming of Durrant Media Five, a local architectural firm. It will include a computer classroom for people with disabilities, a gymnasium-auditorium for athletic activities and performing arts, training facilities, offices and meeting rooms.

The first phase of the development included the building design and permitting, which is near completion. Gleason thanked the county's Office of Housing and Community Development Department for their support in funding for this first phase. The county made a Community Development Block Grant to the project in 2005, which along with equity funds from the Arc were utilized to pay for the first phase.

The plan calls for a parking lot and underground utilities along with a retaining wall to be built in the second phase, which should begin this summer. The third phase will encompass the development of two buildings comprising the center.

Says Sam Wallis, chairman of The Arc's board, "This facility is very much needed. If you visit the Arc when we have all of our programs going, you will see staff and clients literally overflowing out of our current space. When the new buildings are done, we will serve more, yes, but we will serve all, in a higher quality manner and that's what's important."

The Arc of Hilo Capital Campaign has established a steering committee composed of friends and family of the Arc and some of East Hawaii's leading citizens. The Steering Committee is led by Nancy Cabral of Day-Lum Properties, a local realtor and horse aficionado, and David DeLuz Jr. of Big Island Toyota, a local car dealer and rancher. They challenge our community to work tirelessly, as they have, to help the Arc build the Training and Community Center. They stressed the importance of the work of the Arc and how many of our families are touched by the needs of people with disabilities.

"Our goal is $1 million, which should not be a problem for the very generous people of the island of Hawaii," said DeLuz. "We give freely here and we know the importance of helping others help themselves."

Added Cabral: "This is a big task and we are sure everyone will step up and make this happen."

An example of local support occurred recently at The Arc's Holiday Show auction. Entertainer Melveen Leed, also an accomplished jewelry designer, donated one of her custom creations, a Tahitian pearl necklace, to the Arc of Hilo Capital Campaign. The necklace was won by local businessman Vernon Lindsey, who had to battle campaign co-chairperson Nancy Cabral for the bid.

Cabral made the top bid of $1,200 -- but then made a proposal to Vernon, namely, that if he would match her bid, she would let him buy the necklace -- and she would still donate $1,200 to the Arc.


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