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HawaiiUSA blesses 1st Kaua‘i branch at Kukui Grove Center

LIHU‘E — A Starbucks customer enjoying her beverage in the coffee shop’s outdoor dining and seating area Monday said it best while enjoying the sound of Tsunami Taiko under the lead of Naoko Ho.

“There is a lot of good energy here,” the diner said while watching the throng of people mill about the entrance to the Hawai‘iUSA Federal Credit Union Lihu‘e Branch.

Doors to the Hawai‘iUSA Federal Credit Union Lihu‘e Branch opened Monday under the leadership of Mel Chiba, Taylor Shigemoto, Morgan Moises Lopez and Branch Manager Karen Shigematsu, following a traditional blessing provided by Lady Ipo Kahaunaele-Ferreira of Ke Akua Mana Church.

The opening of the branch marks Hawai‘iUSA FCU’s presence on four of the major Hawaiian Islands, said Carl Yoneshige, president and CEO. The opening marks the end of months working out of the community outreach office near Kaua‘i Bakery.

“I’ve been coming to Kaua‘i for 30 years,” Yoneshige said. “During that time, I’ve met a lot of good people.”

The branch opening also marked a homecoming of sorts for Hawai‘iUSA FCU Chief Operating Officer Brandy Oki.

“I was born on Kaua‘i, but went to school on O‘ahu,” Oki said, reuniting with some of the branch’s staff and making new contacts, like members of the Kaua‘i County Council.

Shigemoto said in a press release that the opening serves to provide the credit union’s members an exceptional experience, living up to its “Life Matters” theme, and a saying from Yoneshige about “thriving, not just surviving.”

“We want to ensure that the branch would allow us the opportunities to provide our members the products and services they need to reach their goals as well as the ability to help foster financial education to further strengthen their financial wellness,” Shigemoto said in the release.

Mayor Derek Kawakami, joined by members of the County Council and members of Kaua‘i’s state legislative team, including state Rep. James Tokioka, celebrated the occasion by announcing Monday as Hawai‘iUSA Federal Credit Union Day.

“We are delighted to welcome the Hawai‘iUSA Federal Credit Union to our community of merchants at Kukui Grove Center,” said David Sosner, KGC general manager.

“Hawai‘iUSA has transformed a prominent location fronting our center, and their services and friendly staff will be a wonderful addition for many years to come. Their team has already made an impact on Kaua‘i over the past year by supporting educational initiatives like Read Across America and the upcoming Back to School Bash. Community is truly at the heart of what they do, and is a perfect fit for Kukui Grove,” he said.

Hawai‘iUSA FCU is now the largest credit union in Hawai‘i, with 14 branches and assets exceeding $2.203 billion in 2020, after being founded in 1936 by a group of O‘ahu educators as the O‘ahu Teachers No. 3 Federal Credit Union.

Hawai‘iUSA FCU made its presence on Kaua‘i known before opening its community outreach office when it became a sponsor of the Visitor Industry Charity Walk presented by the Hawai‘i Lodging &Tourism Association when the event was relocated to the Vidinha Stadium athletic fields. The credit union has also anchored key literary programs such as Read Across America and other campaigns spearheaded by KGC.

“Hawai‘iUSA FCU is a valued community member, providing financial services and wellness and employment opportunities to residents as well as supporting a number of worthy causes and charitable events with philanthropic giving of more than $738,000 in 2020,” Kawakami said in his proclamation.

The credit union for over eight decades has existed as a member-owned, not-for-profit financial institution founded and based in Hawai‘i.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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