Hula Delivers

It was early January and the snow was accumulating nicely outside as I entered the Hula construction site, soon to be our newly constructed tech accelerator and coworking facility. Opening the doors to Building 44, I immediately became warm and cozy as I removed my hat and gloves and began visualizing the days in late spring when the project would be complete and filled with the excitement of bodies and creative minds. I was daydreaming of the day when I would be walking through the central meeting space at Building 50, making my way to the Spot at Hula where I’d meet a colleague and indulge in my very first lunch, a Peahi.

Now, I should know better. I’m fully aware of the realities of projecting into the future. The fact that most of what we think doesn’t ever happen. Never had this been more brutally clear when five months later, on May 5th, I was actually driving my Mitsubishi Outlander, packed to the ceiling with boxes of Barr Hill Distillary’s emergency supply of hand sanitizer; my vision of entering our newly opened workspace delayed.

We had entered the governor’s mandated order wherein all Vermonters were required to work from home. As the first few days were challenging (to put it mildly), I called upon my optimistic mindset and relied on my strength of knowing I had two choices regarding my wellbeing. I could either resist the reality of the situation creating more anxiety and confusion or I could accept life as it unfolded and go with the flow. As I began turning my attention toward silver linings and solutions and away from stress and despair, my mood lifted and my perspective improved. Soon many amazing opportunities started to present themselves and our Hula team was ready to utilize our network to start helping others.

It was during one of our daily check-ins with the companies in Hula’s ecosystem that our CEO, Robert Lair, became aware of a partnership forming between Runamok Maple and Barr Hill Distillery. Since we had been growing our community here at Hula, Runamok had reached out to Rob to see if we would be able to help with distribution of some hand sanitizer being produced by Barr Hill. Their production came in response to a widespread need. The rapidly spreading COVID-19 virus prompted the governors’ declaration that all facilities had to have an ample supply “on hand” because of the pandemic. During our virtual Hula meeting that afternoon, we devised a plan to purchase, donate and distribute 4000 individual 4oz bottles and 100 gallons of hand sanitizer throughout Burlington to local nonprofits.

In the month of May, I had the honor of delivering to all of those organizations. From Spectrum Youth & Family Services to Mercy Connections to Pathways to COTS, I was greeted by eager recipients, each reaching out to me as if I was delivering liquid gold. Their eyes sparkled above their masked faces as they expressed sincere gratitude for our donation. My heart swelled knowing that our Hula community was providing exactly what was necessary during this time to those who needed it most: hand sanitizer. So necessary, yet so difficult to find, and it provided the staff and the people they serve a feeling of safety and security. It became apparent to me that the Culture of Philanthropy at Hula was taking root even before our buildings are filled.

One of our top objectives here at Hula is to establish an environment where people will connect, share their skills and creativity, and produce results which improve our community. We should all feel proud of our growing network of people who make a difference and get things done. I am so grateful I was a part of this Hula mission and I can’t wait to see what the future holds when we are all together under one roof!