A lifetime of service, now scholarship donor - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

A lifetime of service, now scholarship donor

All month, we've been profiling people who've received help from the Hawaii Community Foundation in their time of need.  We introduce you to an angel.

She's made it possible for those who've battled drugs and turned their life around, to get a college education.

If there's any testament to her love for children, it would be Karen White's library of family albums.

"We have four children and 13 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren," Karen said.

But her motherly duties go beyond her family. Karen's made it her career to help at-risk teens. After serving as a coast guard officer, Karen armed herself with a degree in social work. She then spent 20 years working for family court as a probation officer.

"A lot of them have been into drugs," she said. "They've gone downhill."

Helping them get back on track, is what she does at Hawaii Community Foundation.

After retiring in 1987, Karen started volunteering here. The 87-year-old Makiki resident helps with the foundation's scholarship applications.

"Most of them said you have to have at least a 3.0 cumulative grade average," Karen said, "and I thought so many of the kids that I knew couldn't possibly get that."

So in 2001, Karen created the Hoomaka Hou Scholarship. There's no minimum GPA, and it's the only HCF scholarship specifically for those who've overcome substance abuse. The thank you letters have poured in since.

"Almost everyone said something about," Karen said, "it was so nice to have someone believe in me. I thought 'Ooh, that's exactly what I want them to think."

"They get a second chance through her scholarship and people need that kind of hope," said Rona Kekauoha, HCF scholarship officer.

So far, 32 recipients have benefited from Karen's annual scholarship, with awards totaling $64,000.

Just as her award-winning family continues to grow, so too, will her generosity.

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