“Giving back to the community” has become a catchphrase in the corporate world. It seems that everyone recognizes the value, but how many companies are truly practicing what they preach? There are a number of ways to give back to the community, from charitable fundraisers and donations to employee volunteerism and special programs. Supporting causes outside the regular scope of business reflects the heart and nature of the company, and is sure to demonstrate exponential return.
One company--Hawaiian Waters Adventure Parks--is making a splash and riding the wave of community giving. Under the leadership of President Jerry Pupillo, Hawaii’s only water park has earned a reputation for its community giving and support.
A Community Unto Itself
Pupillo has seen the park grow from the ground up, and today helps shape its business climate and future. Guiding the marketing, messaging, public relations and business operations, Pupillo has not only profit in mind, but the community as well.
“We give back to the community in many ways, such as offering our facilities for free to various non-profit groups for fundraisers, providing internship and mentorship programs to high school students, and donating the use of our wave pool to a local high school athletics team, among other initiatives,” said Pupillo. “Giving back to the community continues to be a priority for 2008 and well into the future.”
Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park has supported a number of local non-profit organizations over the years, including Konishiki Kids Foundation, Lions Club Kapolei, Boys and Girls Club, American Heart Association, Foster Family Program, Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, various Christian groups and veterans. The park provides its facilities free of charge to these organizations and groups for special events, meetings, benefit walks and races.
“We are wholeheartedly committed to offering our facility and resources at no cost to organizations that have worthy causes,” added Pupillo. “It’s not just about feeling good about ourselves; we are really making a difference in people’s lives, which is at the heart of our business and giving philosophies.”
Pupillo continued, “We create bonds and show goodwill, enhancing the bridges and relationships that otherwise would not exist. When we open our arms, it demonstrates our care for local community groups and non-profit organizations that do not have the necessary funds to rent a monthly meeting and gathering place.”
The park also helps community organizations with which employees have personal connections. Employees exercise the park’s open-door policy and ask for assistance when needed, instilling them with a sense of acceptance and pride. This also heightens employee morale, which translates to better sales and customer experiences.
As part of its community giving program, the park enhances educational experiences by providing high school students with internship opportunities. Created four years ago, the internship program affords students the opportunity to experience real business life, plunging them directly into a pool of marketing and promotional efforts with the help of the park’s staff. Interns receive hands-on training and earn school credit. Oftentimes, the internships lead to park employment at the end of the program.
In addition to this program, the park also offers a mentorship program to one area high school’s business academy, providing students with guidance and assistance in order to produce a marketing plan. Park managers are responsible for mentoring the students and providing advice whenever they need help. The students’ projects are conducted during the spring semester and completed in May, after which the projects are submitted to a statewide competition.
“We are grateful for the management at Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park and for their willingness to mentor our students,” said Kapolei High School business teacher Merry Ifuku. “The experience the kids receive is invaluable, as it provides the relevancy between the classroom and the real business world. Our students come back to the classroom making connections on a new and higher level.”
“We love being involved with the students’ lives,” said Jill Shon, executive assistant at the water park. “When I was in high school, we did not have opportunities like the mentorship program, to be mentored by others or receive real world experience. When I see the kids’ faces as they learn something new, and when I experience their excitement as they present their ideas, I am greatly rewarded. I feel so proud of the students when they excel, and I see that their self-worth and respect have heightened as a result of the program.”
Adding to its education outreach, the park offers scholarships to Hawaii high school seniors who meet specific criteria. Scholarships of $1,000 and $500 are awarded to students to apply to their first semester at college.
Sharing Resources For Success
In other efforts to assist in the community, the park donates the use of its wave pool to the Kapolei High School’s women’s water polo team for practices and scrimmages. The school does not have a pool of its own, and upon learning that the water polo team was using a 3-foot-deep pool at a local community center, one park employee stepped in. Now, after three years of practice in a deeper pool--the Hurricane Bay--the team has advanced in ranking and become one of the top teams in the state, thanks to Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park management’s decision to offer the wave pool at no cost.
“Seeing the girls succeed is a great joy to us,” said Pupillo. “We hope that the success they enjoy now will translate into a deeper appreciation for community giving and, in turn, will encourage them to give back to the community when they have the chance to do so.”
“Not only do we see the athletes excited about life and sports, we experience our own staff’s morale boost as a result of our community goodwill,” continued Pupillo. “For instance, one of our employees has a daughter on the water polo team, and after seeing her improve in the sport and proceed to the state championships, his pride for her was evident. His positive posture ricocheted off others and to our guests, providing an even more enjoyable experience for them. The returns are tangible!”
Other initiatives in which Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park is involved include hosting field trips, CPR, and safety classes for elementary schools, hosting special promotions such as free admission for all veterans and active duty military personnel on Veterans’ Day and sponsoring community events such as Festival of Lights and green days, where guests can bring in their recyclable goods for discounted admission.
While the park manages to find a perfect balance between its bottom line to make a profit and its commitment to give back to charities, schools and the community, it hopes to lead by example and serve as an inspiration to other companies looking to join the wave of community giving.