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First Foundation Bank is committed to providing meaningful, multi-faceted support for the local nonprofits in all the communities we serve, especially if it means supporting a community situated on an island in the middle of the ocean. Such is the case with Honolulu, Hawaii... home to millions of residents and one of First Foundation Bank’s only retail branches in the Aloha State. Since landing there in 2015, First Foundation Bank has tried to remain active in the nonprofit community. Our Supporting Our Communities program has awarded grants to several nonprofit partners in Hawaii, including Bizgenics Foundation, The Pantry by Feeding Hawaii Together, Hawaii Community Reinvestment Corp, and Lanakila Pacific. Based on our latest data, First Foundation Bank’s partnerships with those organizations have impacted more than 13,000 people in Honolulu and the surrounding communities. With our continued support, these organizations can assist those in need and those who struggle to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Hawaii.
While it has been almost three years since COVID-19 was first detected in Hawaii, the pandemic has had a lasting impact, with two out of every three residents now facing hardship. Families in employed households have been thrust into a new normal consisting of limited assets and rigid income constraints. These families now hover just above the threshold to survive in Hawaii, and there is minimal-to-no government support for those households. Economic impacts across the state include 15% of residents unable to pay rent, 12% were laid off or have had their work hours reduced, and 1 out of 4 have already depleted their savings.
There have been several examples, however, of hope.
Nonprofits are working to meet the increased need, including The Pantry by Feeding Hawaii Together, which has been able to achieve tremendous growth of its program over the past year, doubling the number of people they can serve in a month. The Pantry has been able to purchase high value frozen proteins that are increasing in demand from residents as the price has become out of reach for many households due to inflation and supply chain constraints.
Similarly, Lanakila Pacific has devoted the funds from First Foundation Bank’s grant to the renovation of a produce processing and aggregation facility to help farmers market their products directly to consumers. The facility is imperative to the support of local farmers, and Lanakila’s project has increased local purchasing from $11,000 in 2020 to $26,000 in just the first 6 months of 2022.
The facility project has also allowed Lanakila Kitchen to increase utilization of fresh local products in many of their programs, including meals for seniors, its Meals on Wheels Program, and for children in afterschool programs. Additionally, funding supported job creation and training opportunities for individuals with disabilities who make up approximately 60% of the Lanakila Kitchen staff.
First Foundation Bank’s support of nonprofits includes additional layers of support on top of our financial commitment, including leveraging our Philanthropy Services team expertise. Marty Dutch, VP Philanthropic Services, traveled to Hawaii in September 2022 to work directly with our nonprofit partners through training and strategic planning. Marty conducted board training with both The Pantry and Lanakila Pacific focusing on the topic of “storytelling,” which encourages staff and board members to share stories about the organization to better convey the impact in the community. Through these trainings, she helps board members become comfortable and empowered to share impact stories with the community, as the practice of storytelling culminates in a greater likelihood of securing gifts and new volunteers. BizGenics Foundation was also able to utilize Marty’s skills to facilitate a strategic planning board retreat, which charted the organization to a clear path that focuses their operations to the areas that are resulting in the highest impact outcomes.
First Foundation Bank’s approach to its community partners has been to engage the entire team to help connect the nonprofit’s internal talents to the pro bono skills from external partners, like those at our bank. Leveraging this internal/external approach ensures the nonprofit builds a sustainable model for carrying out its mission in the community. We are proud to be a part of these wonderful organizations making a significant impact on the local Honolulu community.