Alfred Souza, Jr., Dr. Benjamin Young, and Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell Have Been Selected for the Prestigious ‘Ö ‘Ö Award

The Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce will honor this year’s 2011 ‘Ö‘Ö Award recipients Thursday, April 7, 2011 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Coral Ballroom.

Media Release:

Alfred Souza, Jr., Dr. Benjamin Young, and Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell have been selected to receive the prestigious ‘Ö ‘Ö Award; presented to Native Hawaiians who have contributed to the betterment of Hawaiians, their communities and their professions.  The benefit dinner will begin with No-host cocktails and silent auction at 5:30p.m., dinner at 7p.m. and award ceremony at 8p.m.  Proceeds from the event go to support scholarships and programs for Native Hawaiians.

Alfred Souza, Jr., – With a BS in History and Political Science from the University of San Francisco and a graduate of the Naval Officers Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, Alfred Souza, Jr. is a successful entrepreneur.  Souza is a partner in Hawaii Box and Packaging Company and has been VP and Partner of Tri-Star Restaurant Corp., with restaurants including Sarento’s at the top of the Ilikai and Nick’s Fish Market.  As a 10 time Wai`alae Country Club Champion, Souza was inducted into the Hawaii State Golf Hall of Fame in 1996, and now serve as a director on the Executive Committee for the Sony Open.

Dr. Benjamin Young – A minister, physician and psychiatrist, Young, a graduate of Roosevelt High School, was the first Native Hawaiian to graduate with a medical degree from Howard University Medical School.  In 1971, Young helped form the Polynesian Voyage Society and served as the onboard physician for Hokule‘a’s maiden voyage.  He established the Imi Ho‘ola program, helping Native Pacific Islanders learn pre-med science courses to gain admission to medical school, while serving as chief of staff at Castle Medical Center.  Known as the premier historian of Hawaiian Medicine, Young was honored as a Distinguished Historian by the Hawaiian Historical Society for a lifetime of significant contributions to the preservation and perpetuation of Hawaii’s history.

Dr. Richard Kekuni Blaisdell – A graduate of Kamehameha Schools, Blaisdell received his medical degree from the University Of Chicago School Of Medicine in 1948.  Trained in medicine, hematology, and pathology, Blaisdell became the first Chair of the Department of Medicine for the John A. Burns School of Medicine.  As a founder of E Ola Ma u, an organization of kanaka maoli healers, he helped provide key reports on the health of Native Hawaiians which led to the 1988 Native Hawaiian Healthcare Improvement Act.  With the belief that the essence of wellness is lokahi and pono with self, others and all in the cosmos, Blaisdell continues to study the social determinants that affect Hawaiian health.

Established 35 years ago in 1976, the ‘Ō‘Ō awards have become one of the most prestigious honors presented to outstanding Native Hawaiians who, through their talents, have made significant contributions to improve our communities and the status of Native Hawaiians.

To date, there have over 55 recipients of this important award including such notable

Native Hawaiian men and women as Kane S. Fernandez, Kenneth F. Brown, John D. Bellinger, Oswald Stender, Gladys A. Brandt, Haunani Apoliona, Monsignor Charles Kekumano, Wright Bowman, Sr., Aunty Mary Lou Kekuewa and Paulette Kahalepuna, Andy Poepoe, Herb Kawainui Kane, Dr. Michael J. Chun, David M. Peters and more.

The annual event is the Chamber’s primary fundraiser and proceeds go to support the organization’s college scholarship, business mentoring and student internship programs.  The evening will include a special Hawaiian-themed dinner and a silent auction featuring unique items from Native Hawaiian craftsmen, artists and businesses.

This year’s theme, “I ulu a māhuahua ka `umeke `ai a Hina” honors Hina and describes that the bounty of her calabash shall be fruitful and plentiful, as the NHCC sees the prosperity of the Hawaiian community.  “This year’s theme represents the mission of NHCC as we move forward to strengthen Native Hawaiian Businesses and Business Professionals, building a foundation through relationships, resources, and Hawaiian values,” stated NHCC President Dirk Soma.

Local artist Carl Pao will interpret this theme in a series of spectacular banners he will create especially for this event to decorate the ballroom.

Award-winning kumu hula Veto Baker and Micheal Casupang and their hālau, Hula Hālau I Ka Wēkiu, will perform a specially choreographed oli for the event.

Table levels are as follows and include seating for ten people:  Kou Tables priced at $5,000.00, `Ōhi’a Tables priced at $3,500.00, Koa Tables priced at $1,750.00 and Kamani Tables priced at $1,250.00.  Individual tickets may be purchased at a price of $125.00

Early reservations are encouraged for the best seating and can be made by calling Bruss Keppeler at 808. brussk@jtsii.net.  You may also call Leilani Kūpahu-Marino, ‘Ō‘Ō Awards chairperson, at 808. 352.0013 or email alohaleilani7@yahoo.com.

For information about NHCC and the ‘Ō‘Ō Awards, please visit our website at www.nativehawaiianchamberofcommerce.com.

Founded in 1974, the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce strives to encourage and promote the interests of Native Hawaiians engaged in business and the professions.  NHCC members participate in a variety of areas, including economic, social and public affairs.

NHCC’s mission is “to strengthen Native Hawaiian businesses and professions by building on the foundation of relationships, resources and Hawaiian values:  Aloha, `Imi `ike, Lōkahi, Pono, `Ha`a ha`a, `A`a, Ala ka`ina, Po‘okela, Ho`okō and, Ha`aheo.”

One Response

  1. There is also a local Hilo tie-in to this story.

    Uncle Tudd (Al Souza Jr.) deserves this award for all that philanthropic work he has done in the community, including for amateur golfers in the state and the hundreds of thousands of dollars he has lobbied for thru the Sony Open (with Charities of Hawaii) to our own St. Joseph Elementary and High School.

    St. Joseph has truly benefited financially from his selfless act of generosity.

    What should also be mentioned is that he is a Hilo native and was also a graduate and inductee to the St. Joseph High School Athletic Hall of Fame (along with my father- Al’s high school classmate, athletics teammate, first cousin and best friend growing up in Hilo) , the University of San Francisco Athletic HOF, the Prince Kuhio Athletic HOF, along with the Aloha Section PGA HOF in 1996 (which about 30 members of our Ohana attended in 1996 at the Waikiki Prince).

    Probably one one of the two greatest prep baseball players from this island (along with UH baseball All-American Kolten Wong) and one of the most charming and classiest men to meet.

    And also one of former UH Coach Junes Jones dearest friends.

    What a great surprise to see this on your blog

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