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Kapa‘a Boys & Girls Clubhouse receives blessing

KAPA‘A — The light mist that started falling on Friday evening served as a natural blessing for the Boys &Girls Club, Kapa‘a Clubhouse, which is isolated near Bernice Hundley Gym on the Kapa‘a High School campus.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Tina Albao of the Boys &Girls Club of Hawai‘i, Kaua‘i. “When I got here, the Porta Potties were gone! After all these years of seeing them outside the clubhouse, they were actually gone. It felt strange, adjusting to that.”

Serving about 100 keiki, the Boys &Girls Club, Kapa‘a celebrated a blessing marking the completion of renovation work to the facility, which provides a safe place with meals for keiki following school. The clubhouse also has a staff of mentors who believe in its members, while providing meaningful life experiences empowering keiki to discover their futures.

“The Kapa‘a Clubhouse signifies growth, opportunity, and promise for the youth of Hawai‘i,” said Boys &Girls Club of Hawai‘i President and CEO Paddy Kauhane, who flew in especially for the blessing. “We are immensely grateful for the extensive support we’ve received from the countless organizations and individuals who came together to invest in great futures for our keiki.”

The Kapa‘a Clubhouse, which opened its doors in response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Iniki in 1992, was initially built as a temporary structure. Yet, it remained fully operational for decades despite its limitations, including no bathrooms in the building.

The modern enhancements to the clubhouse include increasing the amount of floor space to 6,000 square feet from its original 4,500 square feet. There are now bathrooms for staff and youths. The bathrooms comply with Americans with Disabilities Act provisions.

Other work included establishing electrical, plumbing, sewer and water connections, upgrading walls, windows and flooring.

“When my kids were coming here, there were dirt floors,” said Jade Wai‘ale‘ale Battad, who officiated the blessing with pa‘akai to go along with the natural rainfall.

The nonprofit BGCH has secured a long-term lease with the Hawai‘i Department of Education to trigger the work and make it possible to continue serving local youths for years to come.

“When I visited the Kapa‘a Clubhouse, I was moved by the tremendous commitment of the Boys and Girls Club to Kaua‘i’s youth,” said Priscilla Chan of the Chan Zuckerberg Kaua‘i Community Fund. “After-school programs are critical to student development and supporting families. Mark and I are happy to support this renovation to provide a safe and comfortable space for Boys &Girls Club members.”

Years in the making, the project represents a $750,000 investment supported by grant-in-aid funds from the Hawai‘i State Legislature and contributions from Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg through the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, the Rotary Club of Kapa‘a Foundation, the Pacific Youth Foundation, the Mobile Munchies program from the Lihu‘e Lutheran Church, the Morrow Family Trust, the Garden Reception Group and U-Turn for Christ.

Nalani Mahelona of NRF Architect LLC, served as the architect for the Kapa‘a Clubhouse renovation. She is a former Boys &Girls Club of Hawai‘i member, attending from 1994 to 1998, and recalled the lack of bathroom facilities and the two trailers which made up the clubhouse.

She is grateful for the support of the staff in applying to Kamehameha Schools, getting a grant for college, and applying for her first job at the clubhouse as a summer program art teacher.

“Boys &Girls Club played an integral role in my early childhood development, giving me safe and positive after-school learning space,” Mahelona said. “I feel blessed to assist the Kapa‘a Clubhouse as a licensed professional architect, and I hope, as a former member, to inspire keiki to set their goals high, go out and get good experiences, and then come back and make a difference in the community.”
Source: The Garden Island

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