Chau ’03 a ‘Forty Under 40’ for Helping the Homeless

Vivian Chau ’03

Vivian Chau ’03 was selected by Pacific Business News as one of the “Forty Under 40” young Hawaii business leaders last summer, and then in December, the Honolulu Star Advertiser named her one of the “10 people who changed Hawaii in 2010.”

An art history major at Wesleyan and an elementary school teacher, Chau developed and now heads a donation project that provides 1,000 pounds of fresh, locally produced food to the homeless each month.

Her “Give It Fresh Today”—or GIFT—program began last year, when she set up a table at the entrance of the Hawaii Farm Bureau’s farmers market at Kapiolani Community College. She asked shoppers to donate a few vegetables or fruits for local homeless programs.

Now, she oversees dozens of volunteers assisting in the program and she plans to expand GIFT to other Hawaiian farm markets. In the article for the Honolulu Star Advertiser, Chau describes the local response as “consistent and strong,” adding that, ‘Now people are discovering they can bring food from their home gardens. I feel like there’s potential with that.”

Alani Apio, board president of Kanu Hawaii, a nonprofit community organization, told the Star Advertiser that one of the greatest impacts of Chau’s work is in illustrating the significance of one person’s actions. “She saw a need and figured out a creative way to address it,” he said. “Vivian’s doing a multifold good deed because she’s not only feeding people, she’s bringing fresh local food to people.”

Additionally, Chau told the Star Advertiser says she hopes GIFT can serve as inspiration for new projects. “There are so many organizations that can benefit from donations of healthy food….There are so many holes in our food system. There are so many markets. It would be great to see the ways we can benefit other projects.”

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