Rotary Club of Hilo awards $25K to three nonprofits

  • Courtesy photo Holding the “big checks” are, from left, Marcia Prose, Rotary Club of Hilo member and board president of the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of East Hawaii; Robin Benedict, Friends of the Children’s Justice Center program director; Nancy Cabral, Rotary Club of Hilo president; Lisa Rantz, Rotary member representing the Hilo Medical Foundation; and Tim Beatty, leader of the Rotary Club of Hilo’s nonprofit foundation.

Since the Rotary Club of Hilo’s first signature Hilo Brewfest fundraiser, the club has supported the Hilo community.

It began in 2013 with the first Brewfest. The club has supported the Hilo Medical Center Foundation’s Residency Program since then. The innovative program trains a small group of doctors-to-be with an eye to retaining these graduating physicians to remain in Hilo.

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In the second year of Brewfest, the club added the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of East Hawaii as a beneficiary. This local nonprofit supports children of abuse and neglect, helping these keiki “return to a sense of normalcy in their often-shattered lives.”

In early 2020, the club was making plans for another Brewfest in June. But then the coronavirus pandemic began and the event was canceled. However, the ongoing needs of the two signature beneficiaries were not canceled. In the case of the abused children, the needs actually increased with keiki stranded at home in possibly violent situations.

What to do?

Rotary Club of Hilo President Nancy Cabral was not willing to allow the club to miss donating to these two worthy causes.

“The community needed the annual funds that would be dispersed in my year,” said Cabral. “We had to raise the funds from our club.”

So in July 2020, the club started an internal fundraiser, with members contributing from their own pockets and challenging others to do the same. On May 7, a small group of members gathered in person to award $7,000 to the annual beneficiaries of the Hilo Medical Center Foundation and Children’s Justice Center. In addition, $11,000 was donated to the Salvation Army.

“What an amazing club we have,” Cabral said. “Even through the challenges of COVID, along with the many COVID-related service projects, this outstanding group of community leaders answered the call. And the $25,000 represents only 60% of the entire amount collected. Each year we reserve 40% of the proceeds to support other smaller but vital needs in our community.”

Will there be a Hilo Brewfest this year?

Yes, although it will be virtual.

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This year, the club is offering “Brewfest-in-a-Box” with popular beers, ales, hard ciders and even bomboocha packed in a box along with local snacks, a valuable restaurant card and a link to a fun-filled music concert. Box purchasers will be able to pick up their boxes a week in advance so the “liquid aloha” can be chilled in time to tune in to the virtual concert on Saturday, June 26.

The needs in our community continue and so does the Hilo Brewfest. Anyone interested in purchasing a box can find more information at hilobrewfest.com.

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