Blessing held for former Bank of Hawai‘i branch donated to County
Donated building will house expanded programs for seniors by Parks & Recreation and the Office of Aging
The County of Hawai‘i held a blessing and recognition ceremony at the former Bank of Hawai‘i branch in Kohala on Sept. 25, which will now be used by the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Office of Aging for expanded senior citizens programs.
The building, on Akoni Pule Highway in Kapa‘au near the Kamehameha statue and North Kohala Civic Center, was constructed around 1900. Bank of Hawai‘i purchased the building in 1922, serving Kohala for 90 years before closing earlier this year. The Bank of Hawai‘i automated teller machine and depository will remain available at the front of the building.
The building had been severely damaged in the October 2006 earthquake. As part of the complete restoration after the earthquake, a photovoltaic system was installed making the building energy self-sufficient – Bank of Hawai‘i’s first green building.
“The bank looked at several options, and it was so right to give this building to the County,” said Bank of Hawai‘i Senior Vice President Roberta Chu. “When we understood further what the County’s limitations were [at the existing Kohala Senior Center] across the street, it was natural to make this building available to the people of Kohala. It’s an honor for us.”
“Our hearts are filled with aloha today,” said Kealoha Sugiyama, President of the Kohala Senior Club, who performed the blessing today. “It was such a treat when I was a youngster to tag along with my father or my grandfather to come and make deposits to this bank. To see it continue to live in our community is such an honor.”
“We’re very thankful to the Bank of Hawai‘i for their kindness and generosity in turning over this wonderful facility for our kūpuna. As our senior population grows, we have greater needs for our services. As the need grows and programs expand beyond our current facilities in Kohala, we now have a beautiful, green place for all of their activities,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “Everything we have is what we’ve learned from all our kūpuna. Our community is a special place because all of them have given so much for so long.”