There are many ways in which the Hagar Family Foundation has helped Maui families and now they can add raising money for kids in Hana to that list. The foundation is jumping in on the Hana Youth Center’s “Walk in My Shoes” Campaign by generously offering dollar-for-dollar matches to donations made over the next few months.
The Hana Youth Center was busy preparing for their Halloween Haunted House, which starts at 7pm on Halloween, but Director Chris Harrington was able to find a moment to talk about the special circumstances and needs that surround the Hana community.
“The typical visitor to Hana sees lush beauty, a seemingly sleepy little town and incredible beaches,” Harrington said. “However, Hana has a host of challenges like any small community. The temptation of drugs, like crystal meth, is huge here. Employment in Hana can be difficult to find and wages are typically low. Therefore, kids in Hana are not afforded some of the same opportunities as children in bigger communities. Our geographic isolation adds to this. So, though it may seem like paradise to a visitor, there are actually a lot of challenges facing families in Hana.”
The population in Hana is around 2,300 and the center serves a membership of 217 youths, ages eight to 18. Hana School, which is severely lacking in funding, is closed on Fridays.
The Hana Youth Center was founded in 1986 as a safe, free place where kids in Hana can hang out when school is not in session. It’s currently open everyday after school till 7pm and from 9am to 6pm when school is out. The youth center has evolved into a haven for youth culture in our east community, free of the temptations of drugs and alcohol.
“Keoki Kalani, Director of the Youth Center, and John Villiarimo, Assistant Director, are dedicated to the Hana Youth Center. They have the perfect temperament to mentor the kids on a daily basis. They approach their job with the perfect mix of discipline and fun. But most importantly, they realize they are in a position to teach these kids life lessons that can help to make them healthy, happy and socially aware adults. The success of our youth center is largely due to their dedication.”
Helping youth to recognize, believe in and follow their talents and gifts is part of the goal of the youth center, which aims to be more than just being a place for kids to hang out. Everyone pitches in to help each other, including raising keiki.
Instead of having kids unattended during school hours or breaks, they have a place to gather and participate in healthy, educational activities that are fun. Members of the community support the center and volunteer their time to pass on the Hawaiian traditions that perpetuate the culture like net fishing, weaving, chanting and the hula.
For an inspiring look at Sammy Hagar and his outlook on the Hagar Family Foundation, read theywillrockyou.com/tag/the-hagar-family-foundation.
About Jen Russo
I write lifestyle and culinary columns for MauiTime. I love being a Maui girl and adore my big family. Dedicated food taster, blogger, internet fanatic, and Maui and Hawaii specialist.