YMCA of Honolulu hosted dinner honoring its 150th anniversary

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The YMCA of Honolulu hosted a dinner honoring its 150th anniversary.

The YMCA of Honolulu ended a year-long celebration of its 150th anniversary with a hoolaulea benefit dinner at the Koolau Ballrooms on Nov. 9.

More than 600 supporters attended the celebration where guests were treated to a variety of activities and displays including smoothie making bikes, creation of a youth inspiration panel, 20-panel-historic exhibit, 12-minute historical documentary film and published booklet and the special recognition of 17 individuals and families who have demonstrated extraordinary dedication to advancing the YMCA of Honolulu’s mission over the past 150 years.

This was all capped off with the famous YMCA dance

All proceeds from the dinner, silent auction and a wishing pool went towards the support of the YMCA of Honolulu’s youth and teen programs.

150th Anniversary
The YMCA of Honolulu kicked off its year-long 150th Anniversary commemoration back in January with the 68th annual YMCA Youth and Government Legislative Opening Ceremony and Luncheon at the State Capital.

Festivities continued with not just one, but birthday parties at each of the YMCA Branches throughout Oahu bringing folks of all ages together to enjoy what our Y has offered since it’s beginning – an opportunity to connect and thrive together.

The rich history of the YMCA of Honolulu has been shared throughout the year and communities through a special 20-panel historical exhibit on display at each of the Y Branches, a traveling version that has made stops at Kahala, Pearlridge and Windward Malls and with an interactive version on its website at www.ymcahonolulu.org.

Throughout the Y’s celebration year, the Y wanted people to know that the Y’s history is their history, filled with fascinating events and milestones, against the backdrop of Hawaii’s history, our nation’s and even the world’s – and has invited people to submit their own Y stories and photos through it’s website at www.ymcahonolulu.org. Stories collected have been archived to share with future generations.

YMCA Background
175 years ago, a 22-year-old named George Williams started the first Y in the world in London to address the bleak future of poverty, drinking and immorality faced by young men migrating into the city.

And then, just 25 years later in 1869, a group of young men in Honolulu saw the same need for positive character development among the young sailors, new immigrants and youth living in isolated rural areas. Peter Cushman Jones, Sanford Dole and Thomas Rain Walker founded the YMCA of Honolulu.

The YMCA of Honolulu has survived two World Wars and the Great Depression, all the while providing programs and activities relevant for their times, and for people of all ages to grow physically, mentally and emotionally.

Over the years, those have included swimming and group exercise classes, kindergarten prep for underserved youth and A+ after-school programs, and substance abuse treatment programs to help address gangs, truancy and alcohol use among teens. Literally dozens of programs for all family members.

In recent years, the Y’s dedicated team of staff and volunteers have led the way with innovative programs that include: developing state-of-the-art chronic disease programs; initiating community stewardship of our natural resources; introducing character development elements into all youth programs; and inspiring middle,high school and college students, with a focus on servant leadership.

Today, the YMCA of Honolulu has more than 1,200 employees, over 3,000 volunteers, 8 YMCA Branches and Camp H.R. Erdman and serves more than 100,000 people of all ages each year.

17 Honorees for YMCA of Honolulu 150th Anniversary Ho’olaulea Dinner:

Atherton Branch
Michael Kawaharada
Mike was a pioneer as the first ever student board member at the Atherton Branch in the 1960’s, helping to make Atherton truly student-led. He also was an influential voice during the sale of the Atherton property. Mike continues to serve as a board member today.

Camp H.R. Erdman
The Cole-Nordyke Family
In 1931, Ralph G. Cole began 10 years of service as Camp H.R. Erdman’s Executive Director. The Bell Tower was built in his memory. The Cole-Nordyke legacy of giving continued with Camp Emeritus Board member, Eleanor “Ellie” Cole-Nordyke, and her daughter, Mary Ellen Nordyke-Grace. Accepting the honor for the Cole-Nordyke Family is Cole’s great-granddaughter, Dr. Aimee Grace.

Central Branch
William “Bill” C. Maket
In 1930, Bill was elected to the Central Branch Board of Managers, where he served continuously for over 50 years. In 1952, he received the YMCA of Honolulu’s “Distinguished Service Recognition Award.” In 1988, the Central Branch building was rededicated as the William C. Maket Memorial building. Accepting the honor is Dani Gray.

Kaimuki-Waialae Branch
The Kosasa Family
In 1939, the Kosasa family donated a piece of land that became the Kaimuki-Waialae Branch. The Kosasa family has been very supportive of the Y, recently donating $1 million dollars for the new Waianae Branch building. The Kosasa family has continually shown extraordinary dedication. Accepting the award is Paul Kosasa.

Kalihi Branch
Philip “Phil” Chun
Phil Chun was Kalihi Branch Executive Director from 1969 to 1994. His passion and love for the Kalihi community has attracted volunteers who still serve Kalihi Branch today.

Leeward Branch
Stanley Masamitsu
Stan Masamitsu, CEO of the Tony Group, has been on the Leeward Branch Board for 18 years and was board chair from 2007-2008. Under his leadership, the Tony Group Foundation has played an active role in giving back to the YMCA.

Mililani Branch
Maile Kanemaru
Starting as a YMCA Youth Program Director, Maile later became YMCA Branch Executive Director at Windward, Central and Mililani branches. During her 40 years with the Y, Maile played a large part in the establishment of the Leeward Branch.

Also from the Mililani Branch
Dr. Dennis Kuwabara
The late Dr. Dennis Kuwabara was a strong volunteer. “Doc” was a key leader to raise money to build the Mililani West Oahu Branch. He also served the YMCA nationally. Accepting the award is Doc’s widow, Judith Kuwabara. Mahalo Doc Kuwabara.

Windward Branch
James “Jimmy” Tomita has been a part of the YMCA movement starting as a volunteer Advisor for the Farrington Hi-Y Club, a social and service club for teens. Jimmy went on to serve as volunteer instructor for swim lessons and training lifeguards. For 60 years, Jimmy has nurtured the potential of the youth in our community- teaching the life-long skill of swimming, and transforming the lives of countless youth and teens through his continual volunteer service to the Y organization

The YMCA of Honolulu
The Atherton Family
The Atherton family has left a lasting legacy with the YMCA. Starting with Joseph P. Atherton, who joined the Y during its inaugural year in 1869, he was one of the founders of the Nuuanu Branch. Over the years, the Atherton Family Foundation has generously donated over $1.5 million dollars to the YMCA. Accepting the honor is Fritz Rolfing.

William “Bill” Aull
Bill Aull joined the YMCA of Honolulu Metropolitan Board of Directors in 1961 and became Chairman in 1970, serving for 16 years. Bill was instrumental in helping with Nuuanu Branch’s expansion, and the growth of Camp H.R. Erdman and the Waianae Branch. Bill served the Y until his passing in 2009. Accepting the award is Bob Masuda, who was Y CEO during Bill’s tenure.

Dr. Michael J. Chun
Dr. Michael Chun’s leadership was crucial to the growth of the YMCA. A former President of Kamehameha Schools, Dr. Chun served as Chair of the Board of Directors from 1990 to 1999, where he led support to open the Leeward YMCA and acquire the Waianae Branch property. Dr. Chun continues to serve on the YMCA board.

Henry Clark
Henry Clark was the longest-serving leader in YMCA’s history. He joined the YMCA of Honolulu Board of Directors in 1954 and remained a board member for 55 years, serving as Chairman of the Board from 1961-1969. Henry was a generous donor and was recognized as a National Treasure in 1991. Accepting the award is Barrett Francis and Sefton Clark.

David Haig
David Haig served on the YMCA Board of Directors from 1984 until 2001, becoming Chairman from 1999-2000. He played a key role in developing formal partnerships with the YMCAs of China, Singapore, and Taipei. He generously made some of the largest personal gifts from a board member to the YMCA of Honolulu in Y history.

August “Augie” Yee, Metro
In 1970, August “Augie” Yee began 48 years of service with the Metro Board of Directors. Augie helped raise funds for the expansion of Nuuanu Branch and the opening of the Mililani West O’ahu Branch. He continued to serve until his passing in 2018. Augie received the Y’s highest service award, the YMCA of the USA Heritage Award. Accepting the award is Augie’s daughter, Marcia Rebelo.

Nuuanu Branch
Ai Family
Opening City Mill in 1899, Chung Kun Ai was one of the founders of Nuuanu Branch. His son, David Ai continued to support Nuuanu Branch through the Chung Kun Ai Foundation, and his son, Steven Ai, has served on the YMCA Metro Board since 1995. We’re thankful for generations of support.

Auntie Carolee Nishi
For more than 51 years, Auntie Carolee Nishi has taught Hawaiian culture and hula at the Nuuanu Branch. She has helped teach discipline and core values.

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