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The United Way has been a part of our community for decades. Their workplace giving campaigns have raised millions of dollars over the years to support nonprofits throughout Hawaii that provide services to so many in our community. But how many of you realize the role that the ILWU played in establishing this fundraising organization?

In 1966, Jack Hall, past Hawaii Regional Director and International Vice President for the ILWU and regarded as the “father” of Local 142, was one of the founders of Aloha United Way’s predecessor, together with local business leaders like Lowell Dillingham. Hall and Dillingham may have been adversaries in other arenas, but when it came to supporting the community, they were united. And if we want a strong, vibrant community where everyone has the opportunity for a good life, we must be united in supporting organizations like Aloha United Way and its partner agencies that help to make our community better.

AFL-CIO and United Way— a unique partnership 
The ILWU supports the United Way because of its beginnings and the good work it does, but we also support United Way because of the Labor’s Community Services Program, a unique partnership between the AFL-CIO and the United Way, both nationally and locally. Through this partnership, United Way dollars support a program that serves union members through labor liaisons like former ILWU members, Lance Kamada on Oahu and Lena Staton on Maui. Other program staff are Catherine Lederer, state labor liaison, and Kelcie Kohara, Big Island liaison.

Making a pledge through payroll deduction 
This is the time of year that your employers provide you with pledge forms to make your contribution to the United Way. If you haven’t done so already, please consider making a pledge this year. It’s easy and virtually painless with payroll deduction. Just indicate on the pledge form how much you want deducted from your paycheck each pay period and the money is transmitted to the United Way by your employer. No need to write a check or reach into your pocket for cash—and you probably won’t even miss the payroll deduction that goes to the United Way. Which is tax-deductible, by the way.

You can even designate your donation to a specific nonprofit organization, to another United Way, or to a service need like poverty prevention, education, or safety net services. Your dollars can make a direct impact by supporting programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters that provide mentoring services to youth, like Hawaii HomeOwnership Center that helps working families prepare to become homeowners, like Child & Family Service that provides counseling, foster care, and services to elderly.

So when your employer comes around with a United Way pledge, please don’t throw it away. Fill it out and pledge your donation by payroll deduction. You can give as much or as little as you wish, but every bit counts. And you’ll be honoring the memory of Jack Hall while you’re making your donation to benefit the community.