During his time on Arthritis Foundation of Hawaii board of directors, George Ehara, vice president and division manager of Swinerton Builders, has raised $20,000 for the organization. A great feat on its own, Ehara’s contributions are even more impressive considering the amount of time in which this has taken place -he has been on the board for only one year.
After working at a Mainland branch of Swinerton, in 2003 Ehara brought the company to Oahu. He spent most of his time focused on work, dealing with the challenges of a startup company. All that hard work paid off – the company got off the ground, garnered a good deal of success in the community and even continued to thrive through the recession.
“I spent a lot of time building up our business,” says Ehara. “And then I got to the point where our business was established,” he says. “And I just felt like … I had an obligation – that I had benefitted so much from the community that I shouldn’t be spending all of my time just at work, but that I should also be giving back.”
When he was contacted by the foundation, he jumped at the chance to join the board. “It was an opportunity to get involved with a great organization. And I have seen my mom and my wife go through struggling with arthritis,” he says, adding that he also was inspired to join the group after learning that 300,000 children throughout the United States are affected by arthritis.
The Arthritis Foundation is a national nonprofit that works to improve the lives of arthritis sufferers through prevention, control and cure of the disease. It funds research, education and advocacy efforts, and also offers various programs, including a camp for youths with arthritis.
As a board member, Ehara works to assist the foundation in its strategic planning and provides input for its overall direction. He also participates in the Arthritis Foundation’s annual Hawaii Arthritis Walk, which this year takes place Sunday (May 20) at Kakaako Waterfront Park. The goal of the event is to raise awareness, provide resources and information for arthritis sufferers and raise money for the Juvenile Arthritis program. To register, visit hiarthritiswalk.org.
Ehara says that helping the organization raise funds for research is one of his main goals. He has contributed to the foundation by encouraging others to donate and involving 55 of his Swinerton co-workers in last year’s walk, as well as through making personal donations.
“(The research) is making some really good strides in terms of discovering not necessarily a cure, but things that could alleviate people’s pain and make it easier to live with arthritis, and hopefully one day eradicate it,” he says.
In addition to his work with the Arthritis Foundation, Ehara is involved with a number of other organizations, including Child and Family Service, where he sits on the board. Swinerton Builders also has a foundation dedicated to supporting employee volunteer efforts.