History of giving tied to Hawaiian Electric's latest contribution to blood bank

Release Date: 12/1/2016

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BBH Donation

Left to right: Joseph Viola, Hawaiian Electric vice president - regulatory affairs; Kim-Anh Nguyen, Blood Bank of Hawaii executive director; Todd Lewis, Blood Bank of Hawaii chief operating officer; and Mindy Kakazu, safety aide in Hawaiian Electric's Safety, Security & Health Division.

HONOLULU, Dec. 1, 2016 - During this season of giving, Hawaiian Electric has donated $10,000 to the Blood Bank of Hawaii, the nonprofit organization providing lifesaving blood products to patients across the state. The donation is one of the company's "125 Acts of Aloha" which commemorates Hawaiian Electric's 125th anniversary.

The company has a long history with the nonprofit that was founded in 1941. In that year, Dr. Forrest J. Pinkerton persuaded the Public Health Committee that a blood bank was imperative in Honolulu. However, after just nine months, the lack of donors forced the blood bank to discontinue. By then, 253 units of plasma had been stored at Hawaiian Electric's cold storage plant1 on Alakea Street.

Just 22 days later, on Dec. 7, the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred and the blood bank was immediately placed back in service. On that morning, Dr. Pinkerton stopped at Hawaiian Electric to carefully load the glass bottles into his car and made the harrowing drive to deliver the flasks to dispensaries at Tripler, Pearl Harbor, and Hickam.

During the war years, Hawaiian Electric's Girls Athletic Association, affectionately called the "HECOettes," became Red Cross nurses, taught first aid, and started blood drives for the blood bank, known then as the Honolulu Blood-Plasma Bank, as part of their patriotic duty. The HECOettes eventually faded away, but their heart and passion to serve the community has remained a tradition of Hawaiian Electric.

Today, Hawaiian Electric is the largest private blood donor in the state with more than 400 employees contributing in excess of 1600 pints annually. Over the past 15 years, Mindy Kakazu, a safety aide in the Safety, Security & Health Division, has organized nearly 250 blood drives at the company's Waiau Power Plant and Ward Base Yard. Joseph Viola, vice president - regulatory affairs, also has been a trustee with the Blood Bank of Hawaii since 2012.

Blood donations are critical as every two seconds someone needs blood. Just one pint can save three lives and it only takes one hour to give blood. For more information on becoming a blood donor or to learn more about the Blood Bank of Hawaii, visit www.bbh.org.

1 In 1901, Hawaiian Electric added ice and cold storage to its services before the advent of refrigerators.