Food, Charity And Remembrance

September has been, and will be, a significant month for our islands, for reasons as diverse as our community. Garden Island foodies and visitors will enjoy the farmto-table flavors of Kaua’i at “It’s A Wrap,” an event organized by Sandi KatoKlutke, head of the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association’s Kaua’i chapter. The festivities are slated for Sept. 21 beginning at 5:30 p.m at Kaua’i Marriott. (Email or call 6528924 for information).

Kaua’i farmers, chefs and others will be joined by my former Iolani classmate Dean Okimoto of ‘Nalo Farms in this showcase of island products and medium to demonstrate the strong link between the visitor industry and agriculture. Farming not only puts food on our tables, but helps our economy, supports our reputation for distinctive regional cuisine, brings visitors to our shores and preserves the green, open spaces that make Hawaii so beautiful.

Like food festivals around the state, including the first Hawaii Food & Wine Festival to be held Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 in Waikiki, “It’s a Wrap” calls attention to the significant contributions the farming industry continues to make to our economy.

We were on Kaua’i Sept. 16 to present checks from the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association to 40 community-based charitable organizations. The money was raised during the 2011 Visitor Industry Charity Walk, which was held throughout the state and raised a record amount of money for local charities in the Islands.

Kaua’i raised $137,000, all of which will be shared exclusively among the island’s charities in keeping with HHLA tradition.

We made similar presentations on Maui and the Big Island in recent days. The Charity Walk has grown into the largest single-day fundraiser in the entire state, and it demonstrates the enormous contributions the visitor industry makes, not only in jobs and our economy, but as an integral part of the community.

* Sept. 11 was a day of somber ceremonies across the nation and Hawaii as we gathered to remember those who lost their lives on that terrible day, and to honor the men and women who continue to fight terrorism in places far from these shores. Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. had his county join in the National Moment of Remembrance by having firehouses and police vehicles sound sirens on 9/11 and inviting groups and businesses to participate.

Former Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris had erected an eternal flame in front of City Hall in memory of those who lost their lives in the attack. In 2006, state Rep. K. Mark Takai called me to inquire if the City and County of Honolulu would be interested in joining a national movement to recognize those who lost their lives on Sept. 11.

We decided to honor not only those who died, but to salute the men and women of our county, state and federal first-responder organizations police officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, emergency management staffers and volunteers and others who continue to serve us, and our millions of visitors, with courage, vigilance and dedication.

Zenaida Valencia

Position: Director of Finance and Human Resources
Location: Lawai Beach Resort

Zenaida Valencia is working her way to the top. The Lawai Beach Resort’s director of finance and human resources began her career with the hotel in 1999 as an accounting clerk. Since then, she’s been promoted consistently because of her dependable, dynamic work ethic.

The Lawai’s general manager says Zenaida keeps abreast of changes in her fields of responsibility, learning and absorbing new developments as they occur. She’s active in board proceedings, quarterly employee award luncheons and departmental meetings, contributing to the workings of the resort and the professional improvement of the staff.

When she’s not at work, Zenaida spends time with her family, attending their sporting events or going with them to the beach.