Hawaii First Federal Credit Union was recently recognized for the jobs its individual development account program has created.
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs recently recognized the $40 million Hawaii First by highlighting its IDA program in its monthly publication Ka Wai Ola. The cover story tells of three individuals whose lives were changed by using an IDA. One of the persons featured was Uncle Toma Barboza, a wood carver.
"This program finally gave me the opportunity to get a generator, necessary tools and business help I needed and never thought I would get," Barboza said. "Hawaiian woodcarving is a dying part of our culture and is my passion, and Hawaii First has helped me to find a way to share my mana'o, teach this skill, and make an honest living at the same time. This opportunity has changed my life and I am now changing other people’s lives." Mana'o means "beliefs" or "ideas."
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs said that to date, more than 36 new jobs have been created in Hawaii County through IDA programs. Ten new members have also joined Hawaii First as a result. IDAs are matched savings accounts restricted to buying a first home, funding post-secondary education or training or starting a small business.
Formed in 1956, Hawaii First is a community-based, low income designated cooperative serving more than 6,500 members.