The Hawaii Community Foundation honors leaders of nonprofit organizations for their contributions to the community with annual Ho'okele Awards. Awards are valued at $10,000 each.
"The award is co-sponsored by the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation to honor the significant and less visible role the leaders play in improving the quality of life for Hawaii's people, according to Kelvin Taketa, Hawaii Community Foundation chief executive officer." 
"The award recognizes these wonderful community leaders that have been giving to all of us for most of their lives and taking little in return," said Kelvin H. Taketa" .... "By providing this $10,000 award and insisting that they use it for their personal renewal and any professional renewal, we're really just saying 'thank you' and hoping that they'll continue their good work. Each winner also receives a miniature koa paddle to represent the way they guide their organizations, like the steersman of a canoe." 
A Honolulu Advertiser article further details the purpose of the Ho'okele Awards":
- The two foundations started giving out the Ho'okele — the Hawaiian word for a steersman who guides his canoe to its destination — in 2002 after learning from a study that directors of Hawai'i nonprofits had an average tenure of three to five years, a bit shorter than the national average, Taketa said.
- "Those jobs are very stressful," he said. "Oftentimes executive directors wear many hats. They're not only executive director, they're the chief financial officer, they're human resources, they're everything. ...
- "You find that those people feel fairly isolated and lonely at times," Taketa said. "They are doing a job that very few understand and appreciate. We felt they are unsung heroes in our community. We wanted to recognize truly outstanding leaders in their field." 
- Christina Cox, president of KCAA Preschools of Hawaii.
- Roy Katsuda, executive director of Hale Mahaolu (Maui).
- Wally Lau, executive director, Neighborhood Place of Kona.
- Dr. Tin Myaing Thein, executive director of the Pacific Gateway Center.
- Vanessa Chong, executive director of the ACLU of Hawaii. Chong has run Hawai'i's ACLU chapter since 1984.
- Robert Agres Jr., executive director of the Hawai'i Alliance for Community Based Economic Development, which works to advance community, government and private sector partnerships for community-based and sustainable development.
- Darrell H. Y. Lum, co-founder and co-editor of Bamboo Ridge Press.
- Janice Kalanihuia, chief administrator of Moloka'i General Hospital, a 30-bed hospital with the only emergency room and urgent care clinic for Moloka'i's 7,000 residents and visitors.
- Lynn Maunakea, executive director of the Institute for Human Services.
- Patricia McManaman, chief executive officer of Na Loioi Immigrant Rights and Public Interest Legal Center.
- Carol Ignacio, executive director of the Office for Social Ministry, 'Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu.
- Robert Witt, executive director of the Hawai'i Association of Independent Schools and president of the Hawaiian Educational Council.
- Marsha Erickson, executive director of Hui o Laka/Koke‘e Natural History Museum.
- co-winners George Kon and Walt Dulaney, Alliance for Drama Education.
- Hardy Spoehr, executive director of Papa Ola Lokahi.
- B. Puni Kekauoha, executive director of Papakolea Community Development Corp.
- Nichols, Katherine. Nurturing the Nurturers Honolulu Magazine, October, 2004.
- Adamson, Deborah. Four nonprofit executives receive Ho'okele honor Honolulu Advertiser, August 2, 2004.
- Nakaso, Dan. Nonprofit leaders win $10K awards Honolulu Advertiser, August 19, 2005.
- Gee, Pat. Ho'okeles recognize community leaders Honolulu Star-Bulletin, September 1, 2006.