HITOP Pilot Recap

Aug 1, 2022 | Program Updates

On June 23rd, we celebrated the completion of programming for the Hawaii Talent Onboarding Program (HITOP), a new program for recently relocated residents and returning kama’āina. Thirty participants from some of Hawaii’s top companies and organizations participated in our acculturation program centered on cultural education, community service and networking.

Following the success of our remote worker volunteerism program launched in 2021, Movers and Shakas evolved in 2022 to serve local companies as a community orientation partner. Companies were able to sponsor high-performing newcomers or returning kamaʻāina (and their partners) to take part in community service, leadership workshops, and talk-stories with community leaders and cultural practitioners.

Below is a brief recap of each event:

In early May, we kicked off at Iolani Palace. Fellows met each other for the first time and began their cultural education with an immersive guided tour of the Palace complex.

In our second event, our pilot cohort engaged in an intimate “talk-story” session where they learned about local and Native Hawaiian culture, Hawaii’s diverse history of immigration and cultural norms like what to bring to a potluck.

Next, the cohort joined Kahana ‘Ohana at Huilua Fishpond for our first community service event! It was a humbling and meaningful experience, as Kahiau Wallace from Kahana ‘Ohana invited us into this special space. We got sweaty and sandy as we helped to restructure outer portions of the fishpond walls and clear out invasive mangrove plants around the natural springs. We learned about the ancient practice of Native Hawaiian aquaculture and rock weaving, which has been revived in modern times to actively practice Mālama and Kuleana and to ensure a sustainable Hawaii for future generations.

In late May, we hosted a Networking Pau Hana at the Ho’okupu Center. Cohort members connected with leaders from local businesses and nonprofits, as well as M&S board members and alumni from our Remote Worker Program. Attendees talked story about shared interests and life experiences.

For our fifth event, Uncle Eric and team welcomed our cohort to the Cultural Learning Center at Ka’ala Farm! Located deep in the Wai’anae Valley, the center works with disadvantaged youth, reconnecting them to their culture and the land. Cohort members learned about traditional Hawaiian ahupua’a land division, the mo’olelo of Kalo, the beauty of kapa, and the role these ancient practices play in sustainable agriculture. We also had fun getting dirty in the Lepo: removing invasive weeds, restoring water flow, and nurturing the lo’i.

Next, our cohort took part in a leadership workshop hosted by business development and team-building consultant Glenn Furuya and Debbie Bacon Furuya of Leadership Works. HITOP members learned about the combination of Eastern, Western, and Polynesian history, tradition, and values that make Hawaii’s people and business culture so unique. The cohort shared their own challenges and discussed potential approaches to leverage their new understanding of Hawaii’s leadership styles.

In mid-June, we visited the Institute for Human Services’ Women & Family Shelter. The dedicated staff from IHS shared with us the multitude of programs designed to help people find housing, healthcare, and meaningful employment. Former and current residents helped us better understand the diverse causes of homelessness and solutions by sharing their unique journey with IHS. We then visited IHS’ Kahauiki Village, “a plantation-style permanent supportive housing community for formerly homeless households.” Duane Kurisu, Founder and Chairman of aio, and Founder of Kahauiki Village, gave a moving speech about his inspiration to create the community, the incredible public/private partnership that made it possible, and the legacy of good it perpetuates. Our cohort packed ‘welcome baskets’ for new residents and helped to remove litter from the grounds.

Finally, HITOP cohort members were joined at BoxJelly Ward by participating employers, community partners, sponsors, and the Movers and Shakas Advisory Board to celebrate a successful pilot. Several participants shared their experiences, highlights and learnings. We also welcomed representatives from local non-profits to share information about their organizations and ways that our cohort can continue to give back to their community.