Donor Stories

Faculty and Staff Inspire Giving to Punahou

On a sunny Thursday afternoon in May, approximately 90 members of Punahou's faculty and staff gathered in the courtyard of the Sullivan Administration Building to be honored for their generosity to the School.
They were led by members of HOPE (Hearts of Punahou Employees), a volunteer group formed two years ago to encourage the campus community to support Punahou's strategic goals through philanthropy.

Punahou Trustee Mike Pietsch '64 remarked that, only three months earlier, the School had announced its most ambitious comprehensive fundraising campaign to-date – Ku'u Punahou, or My Punahou – and that its successful launch was the result of a close-knit Punahou family. "Ku'u Punahou really recognizes that there's a bond between all the people who have a connection to Punahou, and this bond isn't only for today, but it goes back collectively for 175 years," said Pietsch.

He shared a story about his family's recent experience at the third-grade May Day program, which he attended with his wife, former Punahou college counselor Judy Pietsch, son Michael '96 and daughter-in-law Malia '90 to see grandson Aka '25 perform. When third-grade teacher Mary Kane invited them up to her classroom for juice and cookies afterwards, each one of Pietsch's family members commented on their relationship with Kane at different moments over the past 37 years.

"So my Punahou is really family and 'ohana," finished Pietsch. "Where else could you walk into a classroom and run into a teacher that was friends with your wife and taught your son, your daughter-in-law and your grandson? That's what this is all about and why we're here today. This is a chance for us to say thank you."

President Jim Scott '70 reinforced Pietsch's gratitude. "If we can see long distances, if we can have vision and imagine not just 175 years but the next 25 years, it's because there's an institutional confidence that comes from continuity of leadership, extraordinary teaching, strong enrollment and robust fundraising. When we're able to demonstrate to parents, foundations and alumni the faculty's commitment not just to teaching but also to supporting the School with their own dollars, it helps us. You step forward not only with your own gifts but also in encouraging and inspiring others to do the same."

HOPE member Jen Hong '92 noted that the group had been working hard to raise faculty and staff giving participation to 50 percent this year. (It was 44 percent when the group was formed in 2014.) HOPE members have sought creative ways to engage their peers in philanthropy, including educating them on how participation underscores a unified community endorsement of the School's vision and priorities.

"My Punahou is a balance in how I try to be a positive influence on my students but also in how I feel that they are influencing me every day," said Hong, encouraging everyone to reflect on what inspires their own work as educators and reaffirming HOPE's commitment to Punahou's educational mission.