One man’s vision beams a light of Hope and Dreams at Kahauiki Village

Jan 13, 2018 | PC Community

On Friday, I was fortunate as well as humbled for the opportunity to take part in the grand opening ceremony for Kahauiki Village that opened its doors to 30 homeless families that now call Kahauiki home.

Over 150 men, women, and children will be moving in over the weekend to Kahauiki Village as a part of the homeless project's Phase I. Within a year, Kahauiki Village will expand to include a total of 153 homes on the 11 acre property located on Nimitz Highway near Sand Island on Oahu.

When I arrived Friday morning on the Kahauiki Village property, I came upon my boss Duane Kurisu as Nohealani Ching arrived with her children and another family. Excited and with tears of gratitude, the two families were a little less than hour away from moving into their brand new homes that they will rent for about $700 – $900 a month (utilities included.) Nohealani greeted and thanked Duane for their blessings and for changing their lives with the opportunity to live as a family at Kahauiki.

It was a very emotional moment when Duane picked up 3 year old Kanai Saniatan and held him in his arms. You see Duane grew up in a plantation community on the Big Island. He understands and has lived a life that has been built on dreams and reached the pinnacle of success and has come full circle as he shares his dreams and success with the first families to step upon Kahauiki Village.

I spent a few minutes on before the grand opening ceremony chatting with Duane with regard to reaching this magical and historic moment that will welcome home the first 30 families to Kahauiki. Our conversation began with Duane's thoughts and feelings of holding 3 year old Kanai and receiving a heartfelt thank you from his mom Nohealani. Our conversation included the successful partnerships that will hopefully serve as a template for other communities to address and solve their homeless crisis. Most of all, Duane gave credit where credit is due. Away from himself and upon everyone who came together to make the Kahauiki Village dream a reality.

“It brings reality home, and when I held the child, I felt my own childhood coming into play from where I came from. What I hope is this place will give an opportunity to him and the other children. The opportunity that we had growing up in plantation camps. That we can dream, we can have hopes, and those dreams and hopes can become a reality. We have the foundation to make that happen. Not only with a foundation, with a place that they can call home, but we have a child care center and a pre-school so when they start going to grade school they’re not going to be behind, They’re going to be just as good or better than anybody else.

When she said thank you, I accepted the thank you not personally, but on behalf of the people who have invested so much time and energy and have been so generous with their resources. I accepted the thanks for them, that’s how I felt.  It wasn’t for me. I can say how I feel, but I can genuinely say that I felt for everybody. It was part of the team.

We have things here that will encourage building culture. With the family gardens where you share your vegetables, to as simple as something like the post office, yah we can have mail delivered directly to the homes, but they can have someplace where they can gather and meet others and talk story. That’s what it’s all about.

It’s something that you can’t write or talk about. It’s something that you have to live. It has to be something that is trial and error, that will just build and grow. It’s a matter of the culture of community is in place before we do anything else or this will have been done for not.

Actually, it’s probably going to be the harder part, hopefully not about building community. Building up these homes was difficult in its self. I think it’s only half the battle. When we talked to people who have worked on homeless solutions on the mainland, basically from what I’ve heard, they built homes and kind of leave the issue to someone else. In our case we’re building this to build communities not a shelter. We’re building communities.

We hope it’s the template for a number of other communities that can address different segments for the homeless. This project was built with love and passion and resolved by so many people who have done it without any expectations for personal gain. When you first enter the home, we feel everybody’s mana that has truly been a community effort and one where now I believe, even more so, that Hawaii people are world class. We have world class empathy. We’re world class in our thoughts and our hearts."

Thank you Duane!

To learn more about Kahauiki Village log on to:

Photo by Barry Villamil | [email protected]

The State and City partnered with Duane Kurisu, local businesses, and community

volunteers to make Kahauiki Village a dream come true for Oahu's homeless families.

(Pictured from L-R) Hawaii Governor David Ige, Duane Kurisu,

aio Founder and Chairman, and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Photo by Barry Villamil | [email protected]

Kahauki Village keiki participate in a traditional Hawaiian blessing

performed by Kahu Hailama Farden on Friday, January 12, 2018.

Photo by Barry Villamil | [email protected]

Duane Kurisu (pictured in doorway) cuts the Maile lei at the entrance to the Ludwig ohana home.