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Past & Present Toward Our Future

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Mālama i kou kuleana

Take Care of your Responsibilities


Aloha ke kahi i ke kahi

Love one another


E Kuahui like i ka hana

Let everyone work together


Mahalo i ka mea loa'a

Be thankful for all that you have

Okada Renovation

These ʻōlelo noʻeau are four principles that guide us at the Hāmākua Youth Center. For over twenty years our kuleana has been the sharing of aloha with our youth, families, and community. Through laulima with our partners, community, families and youth we have established programs and activities that continue to grow in service. We mahalo each of you for your support over the years. 

A Letter from Our Operations Director:

Aloha mai, aloha kākou,


Years ago, on a trip back to my home island of Oʻahu, my family was invited to participate in the rebuilding of a loko iʻa or Hawaiian fishpond. Hundreds of people were there to learn and work together in the restoration of a site that had for centuries been integral to indigenous foodways and land stewardship. Gathering to set our intentions, we learned that much work had already been done. Dedicated community members had taken up the kuleana - the responsibility - to set in place the boulders that would anchor the smaller stones my family was placing that day. Through the advance work of a few, an entire community was able to come together and share in the reconstruction of that historic fishpond. In the ocean that day I learned a valuable lesson that continues to shape the ways I show up for my community.


Now, I would like to invite you to do the same. 


In November 2019 the Hāmākua Youth Foundation took an important step in our own restoration project with the purchase of the historic Okada building as the permanent home for the Hāmākua Youth Center. To drive the purchase and renovation, HYF secured funds from federal and state grant programs. We also conducted a robust capital fundraising effort, initiated by board contributions of $40k and closing with a successful $100k in 100 Days campaign. To date, HYF has secured $450k to support the renovation project.


Unfortunately, historic buildings hold unexpected surprises and we uncovered many in the early stages of the renovation process. We learned of extensive contamination surrounding the building that will require costly abatement and dovetail with much needed foundation work. Instead of closing in on our initial fundraising goal we saw that goal expand to a revised budget of over $2.6 million. 


With renewed commitment HYF is once again taking up the kuleana to set in place the figurative boulders that will anchor and bring together our entire community. Led by our Board, we are doubling down on our fundraising efforts. While our current focus is working with federal, state, and county programs designed with rural improvements in mind, we are always grateful for the support of our community in Hāmākua and beyond. For those who are able to support this effort, we humbly ask for assistance in placing the boulders needed to continue this project.


There is a lot underway and I look forward to providing exciting updates soon! I appreciate and mahalo your time. Should you wish to learn more about what we do at the Hāmākua Youth Foundation, please have a look at our 2022 Year in Review. And, as always, it would be a pleasure to connect and learn what sorts of things we can accomplish together.  

Me ke aloha,

Jeannette Soon-Ludes, PhD

Director of Operations

There are many ways to give:

Checks can be mailed to:

Hamakua Youth Foundation

P.O. Box 381

Honoka‘a, HI 96727

Or come and see us in person at 45-3396 Mamane Street.



A new crowdfunding project is in the works, and we’ll have more on that very soon. Please keep in touch with us on Facebook for updates as we move ahead on our exciting new Hamakua Youth & Teen Center.

Mahalo again and again!

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