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All in the Family

By Office of Communication Services    Published on 04/14/2016 More stories >>

Liz
Salfen and Diane Hultman (third and fourth from left) show the Thanksgiving bounty
collected for families in need.

Liz Salfen and Diane Hultman (third and fourth from left) show the Thanksgiving bounty collected for families in need.

The Hawaii Association for Family & Community Education (Hawaii FCE) offers something for everyone. Just ask Diane Hultman and Elizabeth “Liz” and Jeanette Salfen, three generations of family who volunteer through its Puna Wahine club on the Big Island. The non-profit volunteer organization was organized in Hawai‘i with support from Cooperative Extension in 1949 and now is comprised of eight councils, 28 clubs, and over 300 members on five islands working to improve home and family life, develop leadership skills, and promote community action.

A lifelong volunteer and past president of Hawaii FCE, Diane recently served as a model for the Vintage Hawaiian and Designer Mu‘umu‘u Fashion Show at the 2015 Hawaii FCE State Convention. Liz, the Hilo FCE Council president and president of Puna Wahine, has won the national Spirit of FCL award honoring individuals trained in Family and Community Leadership who have assisted community members to take control of their lives and change the world for the better. Her daughter Jeanette has received the national organization’s Tree of Knowledge Scholarship.

The 2015 State Convention of the Hawaii FCE held in
Hilo brought members together for planning and recognition.

The 2015 State Convention of the Hawaii FCE held in Hilo brought members together for planning and recognition.

The Association inspires loyalty: not only do relatives often join, but many members have been volunteering for decades: commitments of 50+ years aren’t uncommon, and more than 25 of Hawaii FCE’s members are over 80—some over 90! All this involvement adds up—in 2014, Hawaii FCE volunteers gave 16,151 hours, reaching 30,831 people; their time and monetary contributions totaled $372,314!

Members comment that the organization is a fun and friendly way to do good. Puna Wahine has sponsored speakers on issues of social importance such as the Sunshine Law, increased member and community awareness of healthy eating and stress reduction, provided food baskets for less fortunate families at Thanksgiving, and collected school supplies for children whose families can’t afford them. Other club members provide or sponsor presentations on such varied topics as memorial customs in Japan and Canada and ways to avoid financial scams.

Hawaii FCE’s reach is global as well as local. Other initiatives and collaborations include the Get the Drift and Bag It ocean debris cleanup days and involvement with Dress a Girl Around the World, which seeks to empower girls in other countries. It’s a member of the National Association for Family & Community Education and is affiliated with the Associated Country Women of the World, an NGO with consultative status at the United Nations. If charity begins at home, Hawaii FCE helps the world feel a little more like home.