Oct 3, 2013

Kawakami family Fund Supports Kaua`i CC Adult Learners

Darcie Yukimura, Dr. Alice Kawakami, Rep. Derek Kawakami, Esther Kawakami-Williams, Chancellor Cox, Kimo Perry, Bevin Parker-Evans, with Wai`ale`ale students assemble before
KCC's "The Gathering Place" painting
Lihue. Kaua`i CC’s Wai`ale`ale Project received a $3,000 contribution from NF Kawakami, HS Kawakami, and Minoru Furugen family funds administered by the Hawai`i Community Foundation.

Kawakami family representatives Dr. Alice J. Kawakami, Esther Kawakami-Williams, and State Representative Derek Kawakami, along with Darcie Yukimura, Senior Philanthropic Services Officer for the Hawai`i Community Foundation, visited Kaua`i CC to hear first-hand testimonies from Wai`aleale Project students about their college experiences. These students are striving to obtain degrees in Liberal Arts, Science, Education, Business Education, Health Education, Hawaiian Studies, and Trades Technologies.

The program started in Fall 2010 and in May 2013, the first group of Wai`ale`ale students received Associates degrees. The program currently services 185 students. “These students move from not even considering college to thriving in this environment. This opens doors for them and their families for the rest of their lives,” said Chancellor Helen A. Cox. 

The Kawakami family fund, established in 2011, continues the family legacy of helping great causes on Kaua`i. In January 2013, Rep. Derek Kawakami with his cousin Esther Kawakami-Williams, Vice President of NF Kawakami, Ltd., owner of Kaua`i Kookie represented the families in providing funding to support the Kaua`i Interscholastic Federation and the establishment of the island’s first wrestling teams.

“It’s Kaua`i CC’s turn,” said Dr. Kawakami. Helping adult learners has been a lifelong mission for Dr. Kawakami, co-founder the non-profit organization, Institute for Native Pacific Education and Culture (INPEACE), which provides services to Native Hawaiians in Wai`anae, O`ahu. Dr. Kawakami was pivotal in establishing and developing the Kukuluao Ka Lama Education Academy, which supports individuals who want to become teachers. Kaua`i CC’s Wai`ale`ale Project, like INPEACE, supports those who want to gain experiences and skills through education.

Kimo Perry, Coordinator of the Wai`ale`ale Project said, “The support from local community-based foundations is very significant because it clearly demonstrates their belief in our program. It’s critical that the community is behind what we are doing, and so we are extremely appreciative of the support given to our students—our residents of Kaua`i.”

“The Kawakami and Furugen family’s gift to the Wai‘ale‘ale Project is the evidence of their legacy of aloha for Kauai’s community. We thank them for their support and encouragement of the Wai‘ale‘ale students,” said Darcie Yukimura, Senior Philanthropic Services Officer.

submitted by Cammie Matsumoto

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