Feeding Ohana

Feeding ʻOhana: DAWSON Day of Service 2023

Every year, DAWSON proudly organizes the DAWSON Day of Service event, a day dedicated to giving back to the communities where our employees and their families live and work—in support of organizations providing critical resources and programs in their regions. More than 170 employees across DAWSON came together to support 13 projects across the country. Teams donated food items, volunteered at local food banks, packed food for community distribution, served food to those in need, and planted sustainable gardens to feed ‘ohana and share aloha in our communities.

This year, the theme was “Feeding ʻOhana,” inspired by the Hawaiian proverb: “O ke aloha ke kuleana o kāhi malihini,” which means “Love is the host in any lands.” This ‘ōlelo noʻeau encapsulates the essence of Hawaiʻi, where everyone—whether friend or stranger—is greeted with love and offered food and hospitality.

DAWSON Day of Service was established in 2018 to celebrate and honor the legacy of Auntie Beadie Kanahele Dawson, a remarkable individual who has made a significant impact on the Native Hawaiian community. Auntie Beadie is the quintessential matriarch of the DAWSON ʻOhana. She serves as Director Emeritus of the Hawaiian Native Corporation (HNC), and is the beloved mother to Christopher Dawson (HNC Founder) and Donne Dawson (HNC Board Director). Auntie Beadie has dedicated her life to caring for her ʻohana and extended community. This annual event helps our employees to better understand Auntie Beadie’s unshakeable commitment to community and to follow in her footsteps and support those who need it most. During her career Auntie Beadie has worked tirelessly to ensure that Hawaiʻi’s past was preserved, endured criticism by practicing pono, and worked to secure a better future for generations to come.

This year the DAWSON Honolulu Office’s Day of Service took place at MAʻO Organic Farms, nestled in the historic region of Waiʻanae on Oʻahu’s west side. The farm is situated in the Lualualei Valley, known for its unique vertisol soil, abundant sunshine, and a rich tradition of food production. MAʻO Organic Farms has not only cultivated delicious organic fruits and vegetables but has also become a place of mentorship and empowerment for the youth in the community.

The farm’s mission and business model extend beyond agriculture; it is about training and mentoring young individuals who work on the farm as interns and apprentices (and in turn earn full college scholarships), equipping them to become entrepreneurial community leaders. These young leaders co-manage the farm, growing and processing a wide variety of high-quality organic produce that is then shared with the community through farmers’ markets, CSA subscription services, grocers, natural food stores, and restaurants. At MAʻO Farms, yes they grow food, but they pride themselves in growing leaders.

Feeding Ohana

Over the years, MAʻO Organic Farms has seen impressive growth, expanding from a humble 5-acre plot in 2001 to a thriving 281-acre enterprise in 2019. They cultivate over 40 different varieties of fruits and vegetables, including salad greens, root crops, cooking greens, herbs, and seasonal tropical fruits. Their commitment to diversified production ensures a healthy farm, healthy bodies, and delighted palates throughout the community.

 For the 2023 DAWSON Day of Service, Honolulu employees and ʻohana participated in various tasks, ranging from planting ‘ulu (breadfruit) trees and removing invasive weeds from the fencelines. Regardless of their skill level or abilities, everyone in the DAWSON group — keiki (children) to kūpuna (elders) —  found meaningful ways to contribute to this communal effort.  DAWSON donated new gardening tools to MAʻO as well as a cash contribution to support their efforts longterm. After the day’s work was complete an amazing lunch utilizing MAʻO grown produce was prepared by Auntie Tammy Smith of Hale Kealoha and Lunalilo Home. Auntie Tammy has a kūpuna meal program on the west side that regularly utilizes MAʻO Farm produce in her menus.

The DAWSON Day of Service is not just about giving back; it is about fostering a sense of unity, gratitude, and ʻohana across the entire organization. As DAWSON teams from Hawaiʻi to Florida and everywhere in between came together to carry forward the legacy of Auntie Beadie Kanahele Dawson, they did so with the spirit of Aloha so deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture.

 In a world that seems more divided every day, the DAWSON Day of Service serves as a reminder that love, kindness, and the act of coming together as ʻohana for the common good can bridge any gap and create a stronger, more connected community. It is a global lesson that can be embraced by all. HNC | DAWSON is honored to continue this tradition, knowing that when Aloha is the host, everyone can come together to make a positive impact, no matter where they are.

Paepae O Heeia