As Alyssa Taguian meticulously shovels dirt to make way for a fledgling palm to be planted in front of the new Kamehameha Schools Community Hale in Līhu‘e, KS Project Manager Erin Cobb-Adams offers words of encouragement.
“Every time you pass by, you’ll know you planted this!” he says, as Taguian smiles.
The young tree is a fitting symbol of the recently opened Community Hale that serves KS’ Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau Region. Located at 3201 Akahi Street (next to Tip Top Restaurant in the center of Līhu‘e), the Community Hale includes offices for KS’ four-person regional team, two ‘ohana engagement team members and three counselors – two dedicated to the nationally acclaimed Kamehameha Scholars program and one focused on post-high school efforts. By consolidating two former KS offices, the new location serves the Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau communities efficiently.
Prior to the Community Hale’s blessing ceremony on Sept. 16, keiki and their families from across the island engaged in a variety of fun learning activities thanks in part to support from community collaborator Hui Ho‘omalu Partners in Development Foundation. The young children, some of whom are currently in foster care or have recently been placed with adoptive parents, mixed and played with ‘slime’ and playdough, made flower lei, planted native trees and plants around the Community Hale and enjoyed movies and refreshments.
“I’m so happy to have this community resource here as a place where we can share resources and information,” said Hui Ho‘omalu Community Liason Monica Ka‘auwai. “We partner with Kamehameha Schools to get the word out about services for children and families across the island, and we work so well together that I’m looking forward to continuing this collaboration.”
Added Administrator for Child Welfare Services on Kaua‘i Iwalani Ka‘auwai-Herrod: “We’re very happy to partner with Kamehameha Schools because we have many children who are of Native Hawaiian descent in our foster care system. We’d really love for these children to have the opportunities that Kamehameha Schools can provide for all of our keiki. The center will be a great asset for our community.”
The event was also made possible thanks to the donation of 800 pairs of slippers for keiki by the Kaua‘i Lions Club, as well as native foliage donated by the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Lāwa‘i to surround the Community Hale.
“Our Kamehameha Schools Community Hale here on Kaua‘i is important for so many reasons,” said KS Regional Director for Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau Buffy Ofisa. “Besides it being a facility and foundation with some roots planted here, I also see it as a gathering place for our community. It’s not just offices, it’s not just a place where you come and fill out forms and turn them in, but I’d like it to be busy all the time with activities involving the community and our collaborators.”