Home for Special Needs
When David Kahoohanohano’s special needs son was growing up on Maui in the 60s, “there was nothing for these kids,” he said. Parents were left with few options: many either had to quit their jobs to stay at home to care for their child, or ship them off to a hospital with no special facilities or training to care for those with developmental disabilities.
A lot has changed since then. Today, ARC (which stands for Association of Retarded Citizens) — a national organization dedicated to the care and betterment of those with disabilities — has three specialized homes on Maui to offer families alternative care. And last week, ARC of Maui held a blessing for its first such home on Molokai.
Located in Maunaloa, the five-bedroom home will provide five developmentally disabled residents of Molokai with 24/7 care by trained employees. Construction has just begun, and it’s scheduled to be completed in about one year.
“We promote client independence and lifelong learning skills,” said ARC of Maui CEO Audrey McGauley.
Stimulating Local Economy
ARC will be hiring exclusively Molokai residents to staff the home, providing them with all the necessary training as caregivers.
“It’s going to provide some employment for Maunaloa residents, and Kaunakakai people will be coming out to Maunaloa so it will better integrate the community through family visits and regular transportation back and forth,” she explained.
“It should be a blessing,” said Maunaloa resident Kehau Pule. “It will provide service for all of Molokai.”
Bula Logan, vice president of the ARC of Maui board, estimated 20 to 30 positions will be opening up associated with the Maunaloa home, ranging from caregivers to maintenance workers. He said ARC also trains and pays family members to become certified caregivers to their loved ones in their own homes as an alternative to placing them in a specialized facility. Logan added that the Molokai home will not only offer full-time care for five live-in clients, it will also serve as a base for a daycare program.
A Long Road
For Kahoohanhano, a former ARC of Maui board member of 37 years, the Molokai home taking shape marks the final stretch of a six-year journey.
As ARC homes on Maui started to become a success, the late Pat Kawano, Molokai resident and former County Council member, asked, “Why not have a home on Molokai?” according to Kahoohanohano. When ARC began inquiring with the state, they were told that Molokai didn’t need the services.
“But we found out 136 guys needed assistance,” said Kahoohanohano. Amid state opposition, ARC opened an office in Kaunakakai. This month marks the organization’s 10th anniversary on the island.
Shortly after that, ARC began discussions to build a home on Molokai. Kawano suggested Maunaloa, because it was one of the island’s hardest-hit communities, according to Kahoohanohano.
“We were told we couldn’t build [at that time], but six years later, it’s becoming a reality,” he said.
McGauley said the site in Maunaloa was chosen because it was earmarked for affordable housing development. The $1.5 million project, which is being funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as well as the county-based Community Development Block Grant, qualified for the property.
The home is designed by Molokai architect Rich Young and being built by local general contractor Sandy Duvauchelle. ARC representatives estimate it will be complete in about a year. To inquire about care or employment, call ARC Molokai Supervisor Suzie Holtzman at 553-9090 or stop by the office located in the Meyer Building in Kaunakakai.