Editor’s note: Each Wednesday, West Hawaii Today is publishing a story about individuals, groups or organizations that have helped make life better for others in our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tayson Hirayama received a $2,000 scholarship at the Honoka’a Hongwanji Buddhist Temple Family Service in August. The scholarship was presented in memory of Judy (Kawatachi) Inokuchi, by her daughter Lynn Nagata (a retired special education teacher).
Hirayama was selected because of his outstanding community service with the temple’s Peace Committee program, Feeding Our Keiki and Kupuna.
A hardworking student and athlete at Hawaii Preparatory Academy in Waimea, Hirayama spent most of his Friday afternoons washing dishes. After school and sports practices, he faithfully showed up to help the plating crew after the program had prepared and distributed hundreds of meals and grocery bags.
For his senior leadership project, and as an Eagle Scout with Troop #1, Hirayama organized a biweekly food program of his own, to provide for 25 Waimea families in need.
He shopped at The Food Basket on Thursdays, worked with classmates to fill the bags on Saturdays, and delivered them to Waimea Middle School for distribution. Not only did he do the work, he did the fundraising and secured donations for all costs, including the groceries, bags, and transportation.
Hirayama will be enrolling at the University of Washington in Seattle, possibly studying aeronautical engineering.
Nagata said that the family plans to continue the scholarship award to honor Inokuchi. Born and raised in Ahualoa, Inokuchi provided support and encouragement of the temple’s outreach efforts to broaden and increase membership through activities, events and programs.
Know a Hometown Hero who should be highlighted next Wednesday? It can be anybody, from a youngster doing good for the community, to a professional helping with the COVID-19 pandemic, or even a kupuna! Please send your nominations to email@example.com with the subject: Hometown Heroes Nomination.