Last night’s season premier was a two hour extravaganza covering the construction of a 3500 square foot new home and 4500 square foot “community learning center” for the Akana family in Honolulu, Hawaii.
When the construction of this project took place last April, there was a huge outpouring of community spirit and enthusiasm. The organization that Momi Akana runs, Keiki O Ka ‘Aina, a nonprofit established in 1996, is well known in the community for serving the educational needs of the Native Hawaiian community.
What wasn’t well known to the hundreds of volunteers who participated in the event until after all was said and done, was that Momi Akana, as President of the nonprofit, collects an annual salary of more than $100,000 from the funds it receives from the state and other organizations in the form of grant money.
Nor were the volunteers aware that the Akana family collected more than $20,000 in rental income annually for a portion of their property that was used by the nonprofit for its service activites.
Nor were the volunteers aware that Stan Akana is a Vice-President at First Hawaiian Bank, the second largest banking entity in the state, making an annual salary of better than $125,000.
All this information first came out in an article in the Honolulu Advertiser on July 2, 2007. The Attorney General of Hawaii has opened a tax investigation into certain issues, and there has been some recent reporting on the fact that Hawaii is one of only a handful of states that have NO state regulation of nonprofit organizations and they do not have to register under state law.
Now, the neighborhood where the Akana family’s new house was built wouldn’t be considered prime Hawaii real estate. And, after the controversy erupted ABC defended its decision in selecting the family on the basis that financial “need” isn’t always a consideration in determining which families are selected — often it is a matter of community involvement and public service on the part of the family selected, and the Akana’s fit that profile.
But, the house that was built — with 3500 square feet — is easily worth well over $1 million in today’s market in Hawaii.
Is this the ultimate expression of “doing well” by “doing good”?
I’m not sure all the volunteers who gave so much of their time and effort to the project would agree that helping out a family with an annual income above $250,000 was what they bargained for.
Or, just call me Mr. Grinch.