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Marquette University Alumni Association

All-University Recipients

Service to the Community Award

Eve Spinelle Green and Michael C. Green


Kahului, Hawaii

Eve and Mike go where their hearts take them. Sometimes that means a radical career change: Mike went from serving in the Peace Corps to working in sales and advertising before returning to school to become a high school teacher, and Eve started as a cardiac nurse before becoming a trial attorney.

Sometimes it means answering a philanthropic call thousands of miles away. Eve and Mike have long been active on the boards of nonprofit organizations in Hawaii, ranging from the Maui Foodbank to the Maui Memorial Medical Center Foundation to A Keiki’s Dream, which helps local children in crisis. They’ve always stepped up when it comes to food drives, charity walks or other fundraising events. There was only one problem.

“It wasn’t enough,” Mike says. He began looking for more impactful ways to help.

In search of a cause that would unite their love of education with their passion for philanthropy, they discovered that rural Cambodia was in desperate need of schools.

“This country had suffered through the Vietnam and Khmer Rouge nightmares in the 1970s, when a majority of the population experienced genocide,” Mike says. “Teachers, doctors, anyone who had received an education or even anyone who wore glasses was killed by a government attempting to create an agrarian society. After the Khmer Rouge were overthrown, the country struggled for years, never having stable governments that were able to bring the people out of extreme poverty.”

Girls in rural Cambodia are especially in need of educational opportunities because they are often sold to work in factories or the sex trade industry.

Determined to do something about it, Mike and Eve teamed up with World Assistance For Cambodia in 2007 to build the Green Family School, a five-room school for seventh- through ninth-graders in Kiri Vong, Cambodia. Because the region lacks running water and electricity, the Greens funded solar panels and GPS units to power a school computer. They also support the Girls Be Ambitious program, which pays families $10 a month to keep girls in school — the same a family might expect if it sold a daughter into labor or the sex slave industry.

The school quickly grew from 70 students to more than 200, and 95 percent of students pass the test to go on to high school. Encouraged by that success, the Green family in 2008 opened a second school in Kampong Cham, Cambodia. Today, that school serves nearly 200 students in grades seven through nine. Mike and Eve travel to Cambodia every other year to visit the schools.

But the couple stays active closer to home, too. In 2013, Eve created Secret Smiles of Maui, a nonprofit organization that provides beds to kids who don’t have one or who have to share one. “We believe that children learn best when they have a good night’s sleep,” she says.

The Greens have two children, Jessica, 19, and Sydney, 15.