If you think the “random acts of helpfulness” stories you hear
on the radio or see on TV are limited to the folks who receive an impromptu
phone call or visit from a representative of the Southern California Helpful
Honda Dealers, think again. Ever since American Honda first established
offices in the United States back in 1959, American Honda founder Kihachiro
Kawashima impressed upon his SoCal staff members the importance of contributing
to the surrounding community.
“Wherever Honda establishes an office, we need to be a part of the
community,” says Stephan Morikawa, vice president of Corporate Relations
& Social Responsibility for American Honda Motor Co., Inc. Recounting
American Honda’s corporate policy of more than a half-century, Morikawa—a
Honda employee since 1978—states, “We want Honda to be a company
that people want in their community.”
Honda has sponsored the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC), a national
academic college quiz competition, since its inception in 1989. Through
HCASC it has donated more than $7 million in grants to the universities.
Its contributions to youth, education, the arts and science, health care
and technology include the creation of Eagle Rock School and Professional
Development Center; a tuition-free alternative high school in Estes Park,
Colorado; Ride for Kids, a national ride program that raises money for
pediatric brain tumor research; and the National Youth Project Using Minibikes
(NYPUM), which partners with juvenile justice agencies to support at-risk
youth. It also sponsors the National Hockey League’s Anaheim Ducks,
whose home arena is the Honda Center, as well as the Honda Classic PGA
Golf Tournament, which raises funds for children’s health care in
Elevating the theme of helpfulness to a whole new level, this year, American
Honda Motor Co. announced an unprecedented $1 million donation to nonprofit
Torrance Memorial Medical Center. Much of the donation will go toward
the Melanie and Richard Lundquist Tower, which is named after the long-time
area philanthropists who contributed $50 million to the 390,000-square-foot
tower. The Lundquist Tower was completed ahead of schedule and at $10
million under budget.
Morikawa says a team of American Honda executives were impressed during
an early walk-through of the Lundquist Tower prior to its completion.
American Honda wanted to support the new wing because it features state-of-the-art
facilities and advanced diagnostic technology.
The seven-story tower that opened in November 2014 boasts a new MRI machine,
a CT scanning unit and three ultrasound rooms. It provides area residents
an additional 256 beds, increasing the hospital’s total bed count
to 446. The tower also features interventional radiology and 12 new operating
rooms that are 35% larger than those in other parts of the hospital. Additional
features include 12 high speed elevators, 112 rooms offering in-room dialysis,
plus 88 rooms with built-in patient lifts.
Laura Schenasi, executive vice president of the Torrance Memorial Foundation,
says American Honda clearly understands the health needs of the growing
community’s nearly 1 million residents. “We were honored by
the $1 million donation. Without community partners like American Honda,
we would never have achieved our $200 million goal,” Schenasi says.
“It’s difficult to achieve anything in life if you don’t
have your health. We’re so grateful that Honda also recognizes health
care as a critical cornerstone of this community.”
The major gift is in addition to the $100,000 in proceeds raised from this
Honda Evening Under the Stars 29th Annual Gourmet Food & Wine Festival, which took place at American Honda’s corporate campus in Torrance.
At this year’s festival, Honda also announced the donation of a
brand new 2015 Honda Odyssey. The van will be used to transport the medical
center’s ambulatory patients.
While proceeds from the annual festival were once distributed to many area
nonprofits, American Honda decided in 2005 to narrow its focus to health-related
nonprofits that would best serve the community. This year marks the 10th
consecutive year it has selected Torrance Memorial as the beneficiary.
“We feel health care is very important to the South Bay and the community,”
Morikawa says. “Health care is the foundation to a community. It’s
something that everyone is going to need.”
The annual Gourmet Food & Wine Festival, originally launched by Honda
nearly 30 years ago as a way to stay connected to the community, offers
community residents a unique opportunity to sample some of the area’s
finest cuisine and 80 varietals of wine. Over the past decade, the evening
event has raised $1 million in proceeds for Torrance Memorial.
The annual festival has featured star talent such as jazz legends David
Benoit, Kenny G and Hawaiian crooner Daniel Ho. This year’s performance
was delivered by Grammy Awardwinning American R&B vocalist Peabo Bryson.
When it comes to planning Evening Under the Stars, the “giving back”
extends even further into the community. For example, a committee of 19
members representing local businesses and the Torrance Area Chamber of
Commerce begin meeting in early June to work on securing the participation
of restaurants and auction items, as well as the advertisement and promotion
of the event. Those involved repeatedly point to the dedication of area
restaurants and volunteers.
“These annual events are a collaborative effort,” says Morikawa.
“The restaurants donate food, beverages and services. Volunteers
donate their time. That’s their gift to the community. These [community]
partners that we have—it couldn’t be done without them.”
Torrance Memorial president and CEO Craig Leach has been with the medical
center since 1984, just six years less than Morikawa has been employed
with the legendary automotive corporation. Even in separate interviews,
the two executives nearly echo the other’s sentiments.
“The fact that Honda does this every year is unique,” Leach
says. “This event is not just about supporting Torrance Memorial.
Honda is supporting Torrance Memorial, so we can support the community.
I challenge you to find someone who will say something negative about
Honda in this community. Honda is greatly admired and we’re extremely
grateful and proud to have it as a partner.”