Thursday, November 26, 2015         


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Interfaith Alliance honors educator with top award

By Star-Advertiser staff


Pieper Toyama, head of school at Pacific Buddhist Academy, will receive The Interfaith Alliance Hawai'i's "Flame of Hope Award" at the organization's 10th annual Awards Celebration and Dinner on Nov. 18 at Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin.

This award recognizes a person "who through her or his witness and actions has ignited or fanned a flame of hope in Hawaii," an Interfaith Alliance news release said.

Toyama, an educator for 40 years, developed a college preparatory school based on Buddhist values, particularly "the courage to nurture peace," said nominator Alan Goto, a former PBA trustee and fellow Hongwanji member.

Toyama, originally from Paauilo on Hawaii island, is retiring at the end of the 2012-13 school year after a decade at Pacific Buddhist Academy, a K-12 school in lower Nuuanu which opened in 2003.

"He has led in the creation of a dynamic educational environment that embraces the nurturing of the whole person, intellectually and spiritually, to become leaders and peacemaker through service to our community," Goto wrote.

Other organizations that will be recognized by the Interfaith Alliance include:

» Family Promise of Hawai'i, which provides transitional housing for families with the help of 65 congregations in Honolulu and Windward Oahu and more than 1,500 volunteers. Its executive director is Mary Saunders.

» Malu 'Aina Center, for encouraging education and nonviolent civic participation. Founded by Jim Albertini 25 years ago, Malu 'Aina is a spiritual community based on peace, justice and sustainable organic farming on 23 acres on Hawaii island.

» Hoa 'Aina o Makaha, for facilitating community activism. Under Executive Director Gigi Cocquio, it serves Waianae Coast residents with a substance abuse rehabilitation program, an alternative school on the farm in connection with Ka'ala Learning Center, a women's support group and a soup kitchen for families in need.

There is no charge to attend the awards event or for the dinner. The Interfaith Alliance is taking reservations through Nov. 12. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. Email Cecilia Fordham at or Randolph Sykes at

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