HITOP Cohort 2 Recap

Dec 9, 2022 | Program Updates

On November 10th, we celebrated the completion of programing for the second cohort of HITOP! The program included three community workdays with participating partners Kako‘o ‘Ōiwi, Institute for Human Services and The Pantry by Feeding Hawaii Together, as well as leadership training workshops, networking events and talk-story sessions through partnerships with Leadership Works, ‘Iolani Palace, community leaders and cultural practitioners.

Below is a brief recap of each event:

  • In early October, 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 sophomore cohort journeyed to Kako‘o ‘Ōiwi for our first community service event! Located in lush He‘eia, the organization grows and sells local produce, hosts community workdays, and “serves as a living ‘classroom’ ready to provide outdoor learning opportunities for those young and old.” Cohort members learned about the traditional land divisions of ahupua’a, the mo’olelo of Kalo and Ulu, and the role these ancient customs play in sustainable agriculture. We also got muddy in the Lepo – aerating the taro patch to improve water flow and nurture the lo’i.
  • Next, our cohort took part in a leadership workshop hosted by business development and team-building consultants, Glenn Furuya and Debbie Bacon of Leadership Works. HITOP members learned about the combination of Eastern, Western, and Polynesian history, tradition, and values that make Hawai’i’s people and business culture so unique. The cohort shared their own challenges and discussed potential approaches to leverage their new understanding of Hawai’i’s leadership styles.
  • In mid-October our cohort visited the Institute for Human Services’ Women & Family Shelter. The dedicated staff from IHS shared the multitude of programs designed to help people find housing, healthcare, and meaningful employment. We were given a tour of their facility, had an opportunity to participate in their rooftop urban agriculture program, and gained a better understanding of the diverse causes of homelessness and potential solutions. We then visited IHS’ Kahauiki Village, “a plantation-style permanent supportive housing community for formerly homeless households.” In addition to affordable housing, Kahauiki Village also features vocational programs, education, and childcare for its residents. Lloyd Sueda, lead architect and one of the founders of Kahauiki Village, gave a moving speech about his inspiration to create the community, the incredible public/private partnership that made it possible, the legacy of good it perpetuates, and a reminder to always Dream Big!
  • Next, our sophomore cohort engaged in an intimate “talk-story” session where they learned about local and Native Hawaiian culture, Hawai’i’s diverse history of immigration and cultural norms (like what to bring to a potluck). We also welcomed a panel of local business leaders – Jen Lau, Executive Vice President at Finance Enterprise; R.J. Martin, Founder of Surfbreak HNL; Debbie Bacon, Vice President of Leadership Works – who had either relocated to Hawai’i or returned home from the continent. The speakers shared their personal journeys to find meaning and connection here in the islands. Jason Higa, CEO of FCH Enterprises (Zippy’s, Napoleon’s Bakery, A Catered Experience) and Movers and Shakas Board Member, provided a fascinating history of our beloved “mix plate” and how it reflects the cultural melting pot in Hawai’i.
  • In early November, we visited The Pantry by Feeding Hawaii Together. Our cohort learned about food insecurity in Hawai’i, and the challenges that many families face to obtain consistent and reliable access to nutritional food. We then rolled up our sleeves and got down to work: washing trucks, cleaning freezers, trimming bushes, painting safety lines, and packing over a hundred orders. The Pantry serves those in need in a “grocery store style” setting, providing clients with the opportunity to choose the food they want. We also welcomed two nonprofit executive directors, who shared ways our cohort could get involved in the community: Julie Morikawa of ClimbHI shared workforce development opportunities “to inspire students to finish high school and proceed to post-secondary education or employment by educating them about future career paths and the process necessary to achieve those goals.” We also heard from Lisa Maruyama, President and CEO of HANO (Hawai’i Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations), about considerations for serving on nonprofit boards.
  • Finally, on November 10th, we held our Closing Pau Hana at BoxJelly Ward. HITOP cohort members were joined by participating employers, community partners, sponsors, and the Movers and Shakas Advisory Board to celebrate the successful completion of the second cohort of the Hawai’i Talent Onboarding Program (HITOP). Several participants shared their experiences, highlights and learnings from our unique place-based, community orientation centered around cultural education, community service, and networking.