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Funds for the Future

Molokai organizations present at OHA annual community meeting

Each year, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) offers $12 million in grants spread across the state. Funds are granted for a number of strategic priorities with one crucial qualification –the project must assist or contribute to OHA’s efforts to improve conditions for Native Hawaiians, according to Harold Nedd, OHA Public Relations Specialist. Molokai organizations made their cases for a portion of those funds last week, when OHA held an annual Molokai community meeting. The meetings are held around the state to give residents a chance to make their voices heard.

“Transparency is the most important thing,” said Chairperson of the OHA Board of Trustees, Colette Machado, of the meeting process. “[Molokai] is the most Hawaiian island and we never take it for granted.”

Machado and other board members heard presentations from Na Pu`uwai, I Aloha Molokai, Molokai Community Health Center, Ka Hale Pomaika`i, Wiliwili Native Hawaiian Plants, Ka Honua Momona International and Molokai Middle School. About 150 residents attended the meeting last Wednesday at Kulana O`iwi.

I Aloha Molokai (IAM) president Kanoho Helm presented to the Board of Trustees videos from IAM’s ongoing campaign against the state’s Big Wind initiative and the undersea electrical cable. Last year, OHA provided $9,500 for Molokai’s first ever Energy Festival, a two-day event in January of this year that focused on educating the community about energy efficiency and conservation.

“We respectfully ask OHA to continue their support for us,” said Helm. “Each island has to look at what is appropriate for the residents of their island, and the windmills are not for [Molokai].”

IAM hopes to host their second Energy Festival in January 2013.

The Molokai Community Health Center (MCHC) has received $300,000 over two years from OHA for renovations at their new location at the old Pau Hana Inn. In total, they have raised $6.75 million in capital funds from state, federal and private funders, according to Vice President Matt Yamashita. Since opening at the new location last September, MCHC has created 13 new full-time positions, restored historic buildings and now serves twice as many patients, said Yamashita.

“We’re very fortunate to be able to share some of our resources and especially traditional healers,” said MCHC Cultural Navigator Kanoe Davis. Spiritual health is just as important as physical health, she said.

MCHC hopes to finish Phase 2 of their renovations by December of this year, which include improvements on the parking lot, drainage and some landscaping, according to MCHC Executive Director Desiree Puhi. The next phase, restructuring of existing buildings, would cost nearly $1 million for which MCHC has not secured funding yet.
Other organizations both thanked OHA for past funding, and asked for its continued support. Na Pu`uwai previously received $100,000 from OHA to fund their Adult Day Care Program, which currently accommodates 16 kupuna. Ka Hale Pomaika`i recei ved funding for their drug and alcohol treatment program, which currently services just under 200 Molokai residents. Botanist Bill Garnett and founder of Wiliwili Native Hawaiian Plants advocated for the preservation and restoration of the natural Hawaiian environment, like the wiliwili tree, a native plant that has a wide variety of uses on the island. Ka Honua Momona requested funding to create an archive of testimony and story from kupuna in order to preserve tradition and culture. Molokai Middle School representatives said OHA grants had been used to buy computers. They happily announced that the added technology helped their students make the state’s Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) benchmark for the first year ever, outscoring district and state in the Science category of the Hawaiian State Assessment.

There are two application periods per year –one in spring and one in fall. The next application period for grants opens in September, but prospective applicants should check OHA’s website for updates in July.


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