'Hawaii for Hawaii' raises nearly $750K for the homeless

'Hawaii for Hawaii' raises nearly $750K for the homeless
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The second annual "Hawaii for Hawaii' benefit concert and telethon raised $747,044 dollars to reduce the number of homeless in Waikiki and surrounding areas.

Hundreds of people attended Saturday night's concert on the Great Lawn at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. The event raised the money for the Institute for Human Services.

"This is a wonderful night with IHS, and they do so many great things for the homeless and the community that we just wanted to be a part of this," said Jerry Gibson, the area vice president for Hilton Hawaii.

The nearly 400 who attended the outdoor event braved occasional showers, with the Hilton providing ponchos and towels to keep the celebration going.

IHS said the first event last year raised enough funding to reduce Waikiki's visible homeless population.

"We actually served over 600 people who were in Waikiki, and about 400 of those people came off the streets and went into housing or the shelter, or really returned home," said IHS executive director Connie Mitchell.

Several of Hawaii's top musicians and entertainers, including Henry Kapono and his band, John Cruz, Brother Noland, Makana, Taimane, Robi Kahakalau, Keola Beamer, Alex Kawakami, Blayne Asing, Ron Artis II, Kaumakaiwa Kanakaole, Jerry Santos and Mike Love, performed at the event.

For the first time, Hawaii News Now broadcast the livestreamed the event.

"We want to use the power of our medium and everything that we're about to spread this across the state and get everybody to raise their level of awareness, raise the level of the conversation, keep things in the positive and make something good happen," said Hawaii News Now General Manager Rick Blangiardi.

Also for the first time, Hawaii for Hawaii included a telethon, with phones answered by community leaders and celebrities, with corporations donating checks to the cause of reducing the area's homeless population.

"Just a really big mahalo to the community," said Mitchell. "I think people are realizing that it really is a community issue that requires a community response, and we couldn't be happier with the way people are stepping forward."

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