Birch bark texture.



Ahtna Environmental, Inc. employees in Hawaii shared some true Aloha with a family facing difficult circumstances. Ahtna performs operations and maintenance work at the Inouye Regional Center (IRC) in Honolulu, Hawaii for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). IRC Project Manager John Halbach’s wife runs a small fleet of cars that she rents on the Turo car-share app. When they contacted a last-minute renter to coordinate a pick-up time, they had no idea the sequence of events that would be set into motion. As they were speaking the renter Sean shared, “Not that this really matters, but I am dying of cancer and have less than 3 months to live. This vacation is a ‘last hoorah’ so my family can have some really great memories before I die.” John was completely taken aback and said, “I am so sorry to hear that,” and asked what they would be doing during their visit. Sean stated that they had a group of 14 family members and with such a large group and the COVID restrictions, it was going to be nearly impossible for them to experience any of the events that Hawaii has to offer. During their discussion, John also learned that Sean was a police officer, volunteered countless hours in the community, and was a mentor for at-risk youth.

The following morning John met with his leadership team and told them the story and said that he and his wife wanted to do something nice for the family. It became apparent that “something nice” could turn into something outstanding. John’s team came to his office a short time later to tell him that they had made all the arrangements to have a true, traditional Hawaiian luau delivered right to the landscaped grass at the home Sean’s family was staying at. Sean’s wife Holly was brought to tears when John called her to coordinate the surprise. She couldn’t believe that a group of people that she had never met would go to such lengths to celebrate her husband and family.

On December 3rd, the entire IRC team arrived at the home where Sean’s family was staying to begin setting up. When the family came out, they were welcomed by traditional Hawaiian music and a spread of amazing food. Honolulu PD showed up later in the evening with lights and sirens going on 22 cars for a “Code 3 Drive by Salute.” Officers exited their vehicles and proceeded to present Sean and his family with leis and gifts. After the officers departed, everyone went back to the table to enjoy more music, hula dancers, and the grand finale…Samoan fire knife dancers. At the conclusion of the event, John gathered everyone together to express his sincerest gratitude to all who helped pull it together, including those who had so generously donated money to cover all the expenses.