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Portuguese Chamber celebrating 35th anniversary

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The Hawaii Island Portuguese Chamber of Commerce has much to celebrate this year as it honors charter members who established the group 35 years ago and seeks new founders to financially support its future cultural and educational center.

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The Hawaii Island Portuguese Chamber of Commerce has much to celebrate this year as it honors charter members who established the group 35 years ago and seeks new founders to financially support its future cultural and educational center.

To this end, the Hawaii Island community is invited to the chamber’s first Founders Ball from 5-9:30 p.m. Sept. 30 at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center. It will honor the founders of the chamber, including Jimmy Souza, its first president, its charter members, Frank De Luz III with an outstanding leadership and service award, and center founders, being those contributing $10,000 or more of monetary and/or in-kind contributions to date.

“‘Saudades’ (The Longing) is on its way,” said Marlene Hapai, new president of the HIPCC Cultural and Educational Center. “This Portuguese center name arose from books, photos and stories that captured the feelings of our immigrant ancestors as they left their homelands for a better life and at the same time longed for these lands, their families and friends that they would never see again.

Hapai said the concept, embraced by the Hawaii Island Portuguese Chamber of Commerce, will soon be embodied in a center celebrating the explorations, emigration and assimilation of the Portuguese and their immigrant families, who first arrived in Hawaii on Sept. 30, 1878.

To date, Hapai said donations have included an acre of land, architectural renderings for building and landscaping design, exhibit design and more than $800,000 of in-kind donations. In 2016, the center also received a $1 million state grant in aid.

“We are $1.8 million toward our $4.3 million goal and writing more grants and doing fundraisers,” Hapai said. “Mahalo and ‘muito obrigado,’ and please help make this center a reality.”

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The cost of Founders Ball tables are: Founders, $10,000; Mid-Voyager Founders, $5,000; and “Saudades,” $2,500. Individual seats are $100.

For tickets, contact Donna Johnson at 895-1907. Donations can be made to: HIPCC Cultural &Educational Center, P.O. Box 1120, Hilo, HI 96721, or visit hipcc.org.

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