Last spring, members of Nā Wāhine Pā‘ani o Punahou met with Punahou’s development team to launch its ambitious Pāani Pledge – aimed at raising $100,000 for the Sidney and Minnie Kosasa Community for Grades 2 – 5.
Although the pandemic forced the group to hold off on formally announcing the effort – until now – Pā‘ani’s 15 board members met virtually last year, determined to start raising funds. They rallied their membership, and several members made individual donations.
With a mission to support athletic participation at Punahou and enhance girls’ athletic programs, the nonprofit organization – made up of Punahou alumna athletes and current parents – have already raised $30,000, with a goal of wrapping up their fundraising by the end of next year.
In recognition of the gift, Punahou plans to dedicate the new walkway in front of the Lily Pond as the Pā‘ani Pathway, once the pledge is realized. “The Pā‘ani Pathway seemed like the perfect place for us to name as we all have fond memories of the area and know many others do too,” said Kellie James ’01 Schmidtke, Pā‘ani’s current president. “It’s not only a central artery of campus gently hugging the rim of the Lily Pond, but a gathering place for athletics teams, students, families and alumni.”
As part of their fundraising, members of Pā‘ani are planning a mail campaign for past and present members. The group also agreed to match each donation with $1 for each $4 that is pledged. “We’re excited to launch [the pledge] now, when support for student athletics and outdoor play is needed more than ever,” Schmidtke said. “We believe strongly that athletics creates unbreakable bonds, and we want all Punahou athletes to know we will always be here for them.” Pa‘ani decided to pledge support for the Kosasa Community, after seeing how the new learning space incorporates the natural environment and includes beautiful, outdoor play areas.
Founded in 1975, Nā Wāhine Pā‘ani o Punahou has a lifetime membership of more than 100 women, plus dozens of additional annual members. Known for its annual flower sale at the Punahou Carnival, Pā‘ani dedicates thousands of dollars each year to sponsoring student athletic tournaments and activities along with an endowed financial aid fund.
“Participating in sports has so many benefits for girls and women, including greater self-confidence, self-esteem, self-awareness, a more positive body image, as well as overall well-being,” said Yolanda Lau ’98, Pā‘ani’s current vice president. “So many of us have built lifelong friendships and grown into leaders thanks to our participation in sports.”