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A Brief History

It began with the shaking of my foundation.  In 2007 I was hit by the diagnosis of prostate cancer. Uncertainty engulfed me.  Fortunately, following surgery and adjustments in lifestyle, the cancer turned indiscernible.  Also, my consciousness gradually changed. A growing awareness of alternative paths to wellness began to develop.   I became more mindful of the importance of diet, meditation, and exercise.  I regularly practiced energy and light healing.  And I began to ask what the next venture in my life might be now that I had retired from full-time ministry.

     The vision of a non-profit foundation with the mission of promoting an integrative wellness of the body, mind, and spirit began to emerge.   It needed to be inter-faith in its grounding and inclusive in its outreach.  Legal papers were written, submitted, and approved. Thus, began Sunrise Ministry Foundation in 2011.  Its non-profit status came from being under the umbrella of the Institute for Religion and Social Change.  Its founding board of directors ranged from graduate students to the elderly, and included persons of Caucasian, Chinese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Japanese, and Spanish ethnicities.  They were Buddhists, Christians, New Agers, and Daoists among them.  They quickly bonded. The meetings always included a meal, meditation, time for sharing, and laughter.

Blessed with early funding, the foundation quickly went to work to fulfill its mission.  It formed a support group that met in homes to encourage and empower people to overcome their fears and live their lives fully.  Book studies were offered for the purpose of learning from people’s writings and experiences on natural ways to overcome life’s darkness and abide in life’s light.     

     In 2011 the foundation also launched its first “Journeys to Wellness” event to reach a wider audience.  This was followed by four subsequent annual Wellness events, the fifth held on Oct. 22, 2016. Each event featured an oli, sacred dance, music, keynote speaker or panel, eight workshops on different paths to wellness, and lunch.  The speakers included medical doctors, religious leaders, a politician, and practitioners of “alternative medicine”.   In 2014, the Puaka`ana o ka lā  ( Rise Up!) award was instituted to recognize persons who gave a lifetime of significant service in furthering the wellness of our people and community.  Nine have now received the award.  Each of the Wellness events have drawn 165-200 registrants.  The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with some even ecstatic!

     In 2015 Sunrise Ministry Foundation changed its name to Sunrise Foundation to broaden its brand.  It also chose to remove itself from the protective umbrella of the Institute for Religion and Social Change.  On January 7, 2016, it received from the IRS its 501 (c)(3) status, within just a month and a half after submitting its application [somewhat of a record, am told].   Its board of 11 members held its inaugural meeting on February 27, 2016, at the Pagoda Floating Restaurant, when it adopted its By-laws and mapped its plans for the future.

    Following an eventful 2016, Sunrise Foundation is poised for further developments in 2017.

—Wally Fukunaga         

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