From humble beginnings to an auspicious event, the 13th annual Community Cares fundraiser bids farewell at Saturday’s grand finale extravaganza.
Tiana Steinberg organizes the annual event that benefits the Community Cares Cancer Resource Center and Wig Closet located in her Tiana’s Avon &Wigs on Luhia Street. The center provides free wigs, hairpieces and turbans to women battling cancer who have lost their hair because of treatment.
“Some women rock their baldness, but those who’s self-esteem need a boost can get a wig or head covering,” she said. “I moved here about 23 years ago, recovering from a cerebral brain tumor. Having first-hand knowledge of the effects of treatments and hair loss, I wore a lot of wigs and hats. “
A friend suggested she open a wig store, and Tiana’s Avon &Wigs was born.
She originally was offering a 30% discount to patients, but it became financially unfeasible. She was able to receive some support from the American Cancer Society, which provided her with about a dozen wigs, but the funding dried up when the ACS office moved to Hilo.
“A friend said ‘Tiana, your community cares about what you do here and the service you provide for cancer patients. Start your own group.’ And that’s how the Resource Center was born,” said Steinberg.
But in order to fund the center, which not only provided head coverings, but resources and support for patients, Steinberg organized her first fundraiser inside her shop in the Kona Old Industrial Park. It was a cramped space, but Steinberg made the most of it, spilling outside of the store and occupying an adjacent hair salon with food, entertainment and service booths.
She moved the fundraiser a few years later to a larger space in the next building, adding more entertainment and silent auction. As she kept growing the annual event, she outgrew that venue and moved to the Kona International Market, adding themes and expanding her community outreach information tables.
Finally, two years ago the event made its home at Makaeo Events Pavilion at Old Kona Airport Park where Steinberg boasts the best silent auction on the island.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Steinberg wants to go out with a bang, hoping to raise $10,000.
“We’ll gather one last time before saying aloha to our large annual event,” said Steinberg. “This year’s event will also benefit those suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s, with which I have been diagnosed.”
Steinberg said that diagnosis is the primary reason for her stepping back from organizing the large event, with no one stepping up to take the reins.
“I will still operate our cancer Resource Center &Wig Closet,” she said “But after this last big hurrah, we will look to private donations, grants and smaller events for future funding.”
Steinberg said she has been honored to be a part of her clients’ journey and contribute to their smile.
“We put in the time to give personal attention to each cancer patient to find out their needs, wants, dislikes and goals,” Steinberg said. She also guides patients to resources available in the community to navigate their
This year’s event, themed “Live Your Best Life” will feature entertainment by Soul Town Hawaii and Ponchoman Kuanoni, delicious food, photo booth, massages, haircuts, Henna body art, fantasy face painting, nail art, vendor booths and a fashion show by Wahine Toa Designs. All of the models in the fashion show will be clients of the Cancer Resource Center.
Community outreach booths include Hospice of Kona, Kona Community Hospital Cancer Center, American Cancer Society, Child and Family Services Domestic Abuse Shelter, AARP and Alzheimer Association-Aloha Chapter.
And, of course, the fantastic silent auction featuring over 100 items up for bid.
Proceeds of the event also go towards her outreach for victims of domestic violence and the homeless by providing daily need packets containing shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and toothpaste.
“We all know someone who is touched by cancer, domestic violence or homelessness,” she said. “The Big Island is the best island. We have the best people, the kokua is here.”
To help Steinberg with the event, or to donate, visit the Live your Best Life 13th annual Community Cares Event Facebook page or call 896-6310