Our Vision & Mission

Hāmākua Youth Center is dedicated to the children and young adults of the Hāmākua Coast. We began serving youth in 1996 when a grassroots group of community members saw the need for youth to have a safe place during non-school hours. For 13 years, the YWCA supported and sponsored the youth center. In 2009, the Hāmākua Youth Foundation, Inc. was established as a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization to support the Hāmākua Youth Center in a new phase of growth in the grassroots mission to create nurturing and dynamic youth-centered activities for youth from six to eighteen years of age.

Our Vision is that Hāmākua youth have access to unconditional support and guidance in life skills essential to their growth into kind, engaged, and inspired young adults. Our Mission is to open doorways to the world by sharing life skills rooted in the Hawaiian values of kuleana, aloha, laulima, and mahalo.


Mālama i kou kuleana

Take care of your responsibilities


Aloha kekahi i kekahi

Love one another


E kuahui like i ka hana

Let everyone work together


Mahalo i ka mea loaʻa 

Be thankful for all that you have


Our programs engage these values to cultivate the awareness necessary for Hāmākua youth to thrive both here and beyond.


What We Do: For 21 years the Hāmākua Youth Center has provided safe, low cost, and enriching programs to high risk area youth. Our extracurricular programming blends academic learning and experiential life skills to enrich the lives of our students and their families. Through our Keiki Programs, elementary-aged children are provided with place-based multicultural learning opportunities, homework assistance, and experiential learning through agriculture, food preparation, arts and crafts, music, and a variety of field trips. Our ʻŌpio Programs expand these opportunities for area teens, including advanced multicultural learning opportunities, experiential learning in additional areas such as internships, and access to three locally-supported scholarships for recent high school graduates. 


Our Impact: The Hāmākua Youth Center offers low cost after school alternatives and summer programs for at-risk youth from across the Hāmākua district. Our staff and volunteers take a personal approach to every youth entering the door, with an emphasis on life-long learning and building self-esteem. Since September 2020, HYC has:

  • Enrolled 33 keiki (children ages 12 and under) in our full-day distance learning support and enrichment program during the COVID school closures

  • Enrolled 28 keiki and opio in our 2021 summer program

  • Provided enrichment programs in Hawaiian and multicultural education, Native Hawaiian foodways at our Keiki Garden, and STEM project in collaboration with SupportHawaii

  • Distributed over 1,500 boxes of groceries, 6,000 meals, and 6,500 pounds of fresh, local produce and meat to our youth, families, and local kupuna

  • Partnered with the Kō Educational Center to provide 16 high school interns with valuable work experience in spring 2020 and 2021

  • Awarded three scholarships to Honokaʻa High School graduates with more to come!





Mahealani Maikuʻi, Program Director

Shelbie Kaholoaʻa, Program Specialist

Summer Ah Choy, Program Specialist

Stasha Laʻa, Community Liaison


Jeannette Soon-Ludes, PhD, Operations Director

Lori Beach, Fiscal Director



Carl Sims III

Ranelle Jardine

Ruby Agustin

Silvia Velez 


Board of Directors

Teri Sugg, President

Jack Zimmerman, Vice President

Maurice Miranda, Treasurer

Diane Scheurell, Secretary

Michele Ku, Director

Kauakea Winston

Dianne Higgins




We are not currently accepting applications.



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