Tyler Tokioka, Sharon Ohata

Photo courtesy Island Insurance

One day last month, a group of Island Insurance employees delivered five truckloads of food donations to Hawaii Foodbank. The donations totaled 4,400 pounds of food – all of which was generated from an in-office food drive among the company’s 200 employees. According to the food bank, the donations were able to provide nearly 3,500 meals to individuals and families in need.

Most of Island Insurance’s employees participated in the food drive, but the driving force behind the effort was the company’s Island Kokua Action Network (IKAN) committee, and this is just one of many service projects it coordinates. Vice president of external affairs and president of Island Insurance Foundation Tyler Tokioka and workers’ compensation claims supervisor Sharon Ohata helped kickstart IKAN and now are group advisers.

“A lot of our employees do community service on their own,” Tokioka says, “but we also wanted to provide a means for them to direct their efforts through the company to benefit charities or organizations that they may be passionate about.”

“(Island Insurance) was founded as a way to provide a local insurance option for families and small businesses that were being offered extremely high rates or couldn’t attain coverage,” Ohata explains, adding that the company was established in 1939 by Tokioka’s grandfather. “The company also believes in reciprocating its success to the community.”

In addition to its recent work with the food bank, other projects include an annual bake sale to benefit Aloha United Way, and a charity walk to raise funds for breast cancer treatment and research. IKAN also is currently working on a donation drive for the Institute for Human Services.

The group also provides a service to the company itself.

“Part of the goal is … leadership development, improving team-building within the company, and helping the members with project management and communication skills,” Ohata says.

As advisers, Ohata and Tokioka are responsible for mentoring other members and providing the committee with opportunities to hone such skills. IKAN also hosts a series of informational seminars for employees on a variety of topics.

While not every employee is part of IKAN, many participate in the committee’s events.

“The community is critically important to our business,” Tokioka says. “They’re our customers … and as a result, we have an obligation to give back to our community through support of various organizations that in time of need will be important to the community at large.”