International Forgiveness Day was celebrated in over 80 countries in August – and that got me to thinking about kokua, the Hawaiian word for aid, assist, and cooperate. It also means “extending loving help to others without personal gain.”

Kokua is why William Porter is building Anaina Hou, an 18-hole miniature golf course in Kilauea to “give back” to the community, and offer our island youth more recreational outlets.

It’s why a lifeguard, a doctor, and the Kauai Rotary have privately funded and installed more than 65 “rescue tubes” at un-lifeguarded beaches around Kauai –tubes that have been responsible for numerous lives being saved.

It’s why volunteers help maintain the Kalalau Trail on the beautiful NaPali Coast, supplementing the efforts of State agencies—and why a group of local residents banded together last year to repair a washed-out road access to Polihale Beach – an estimated $4M job for free – rather than waiting for a public agency to do it.

It’s why two Hawaii-born women, Patti Chang and Denise Albano, started the “Feed the Hunger” foundation, to provide small business micro-loans to “unbankable” people who have good character but lack collateral. When one of their Hawaiian elders heard about their work, she said it could be summed up with one word: kokua. “Traditionally, it’s where those who have give to those who don’t—and when those people have, they in turn give back,” she said.

Kokua. An endless cycle of good. Another reason we’re lucky to live in Hawaii.