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Hawaii Wildlife Center’s environmental contribution will be the focus of benefit dinner on July 26

John Keawe is no stranger to the families of North Kohala, most notably as an award-winning musician-singer-songwriter. But it was Keawe’s long-standing support for the establishment of Hawaii Wildlife Center, whose mission is to protect Hawaii’s native species and promote community involvement in native wildlife conservation, that inspired HWC staff to name a tiny orphaned ‘io chick after him last November.

Little winged Keawe – an endangered Hawaiian hawk — was found abandoned in Wainaku, and was brought to HWC for care, feeding and strengthening and will soon be released back into the wild. His is one of dozens of wildlife animals saved by Hawaii Wildlife Center. Though their critical role is still relatively new, Hawaii Wildlife Center serves not only the state of Hawaii, but the entire Hawaiian archipelago and Pacific basin. It’s a community-based “dream” that became a reality nearly two years ago and is the only native wildlife hospital in Pacific. The center also provides valuable opportunities for wildlife response training, professional development, research, science education and volunteerism.

To celebrate the contributions HWC and to validate the need for predictable sustainable operating funding, the Friends of Malama Solomon will host a dinner benefit from 5 to 6:30 p.m., Saturday, July 26, at the Kohala Village Barn (formerly Kohala Village Inn).

One of Sen. Solomon’s “small kid time” family friend, Keawe will join the gathering along with keiki to kupuna members of the Beamer-Solomon Halau o Po’ohala, which will share a taste of their family’s 150-year hula tradition.

The dinner will include teri chicken, Caesar salad, dessert and beverage. A $10 donation is suggested and proceeds from the gathering will benefit Hawaii Wildlife Center. Tickets will be available at the door or may be requested ahead of time by calling Hulali Covington at 640-8191 or Patti Cook at 937-2833.

The gathering will conclude with a drawing to adopt a rescued bird in the name of the winner. Friends of Malama Solomon will make a $500 donation to the wildlife center to help fund the bird’s rehabilitation. To add to the door prize, HWC will present an adoption certificate with photos of Keawe – including the bird as as a young adult – and a copy of ‘Io Lani,” a book about the swift, strong and fierce Hawaiian hawk – a symbol of Hawaiian royalty – that was written by Kapa’au resident-author William Chillingworth, published by UH Press.

Friends of Malama Solomon is the campaign team supporting the re-election of Sen. Malama Solomon to the 4th Senatorial District, which includes Hilo, Laupahoehoe, Hamakua, Honoka’a, Waimea, North Kohala, Kawaihae, Puako, Waikoloa and North Kona. For information, call Hulali Covington at 640-8191.