Jonathan Merage’s funding relationship with Hawaii Nature Center (HNC) began in April 2016 when he visited the center for the first time and noticed their priorities aligned with many of his personal and philanthropic interests. HNC is located on the island of Honolulu where they work with local residents to increase their knowledge, understanding, and responsibility to the local environment. Since this initial visit, Jonathan and his foundation, have collaborated with HNC’s Executive Director Jeeyun Lee and Bob Johnston, President of Pacific Solar. They have been coordinating the installation of photovoltaic (PV) solar arrays to be placed on the roof of HNC.
The solar installation was successfully installed at HNC in July of 2016 and quickly showed the local community the value of solar power. Within the first couple months of utilizing the solar panels, HNC was able to offset 5,600 Ibs of carbon, saving more than 65 trees. From an organizational perspective, the solar panels have also allowed the center to re-allocate utility funds saved back into the organization, thereby increasing their capacity and ability to support their mission.
Unfortunately the island suffered a massive flood in September of 2016, causing the center to have to temporarily close its doors and host programming elsewhere. Staff and volunteers worked overtime to restore the center and re-open its doors in January of this year. Since then, HNC has been able to resume all of its programming, including youth programs focused on sustainability and living an eco-friendly lifestyle. Visitors of HNC are able to see the solar panels that rest on top of the building, initiating influential conversations about alternative renewable energy sources.