REMEMBERING PA AKAKA

 

Ohana100’s first volunteer was our grandfather, Daniel Akaka, or "Pa" as we called him. He was with our program since 2014 and at 93, he was our oldest volunteer until his passing on April 6th, 2018. 

http://www.hawaiipublicschools.org/VisionForSuccess/SuccessStories/TeachersAndPrincipals/Pages/A-tribute-to-US-Senator-Daniel-K-Akaka.aspx

Fondest memories. . 

While distributing books to students at Kaimiloa and Puuhale Elementary, he began greeting each child by their name.  We wondered how he knew that, and realized that each student wore a name tag and he would say their name while handing each of them a book.  

Pa Akaka was always excited about going out to the schools and promoting the importance of reading.  He loved to say "GO! READ" because its so simple to say and so simple to do.   He did just that at Pauoa Elementary.

He always asked how you were doing. "Ehhhh, How you doin' and how's the kids?"

Pa Akaka always believed in the importance of an education. He was a former teacher and administrator at several public schools, and a band and choir instructor at Kamehameha Schools on the the island of Oahu.   

A special treat for him was to return to a school he opened in the early 1960's to distribute books. He was its first Principal and gave it it's name "Pohakea" which in Hawaiian means to bring forth light, or enlightenment. A fitting name for a school. We've held annual book giving events there since 2014, and he was there for every one of them.

He also proudly dedicated his life to service. He served in the military during World War II, with his church, and for Hawaii in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the U.S. Senate.  This service continued for him into retirement when he joined Ohana100 at the age of 89.

We are lucky to have shared wonderful memories with Pa Akaka.  We love you always and miss you!

 

KANEOHE EL TRIBUTE http://www.hawaiipublicschools.org/ConnectWithUs/MediaRoom/PressReleases/Pages/2017-Kaneohe-El-Sen-Daniel-Akaka-Dedication.aspx

http://www.hawaiipublicschools.org/ConnectWithUs/MediaRoom/PressReleases/Pages/Kaneohe-Elementary-hosts-mural-unveiling-in-honor-of-Senator-Akaka.aspx

 

"Making A Difference, Making It Count and Making Things Happen!"

 

VOLUNTEERS IN ACTION is a special page to recognize Ohana100 Ambassadors who are making a difference in our communities. 

SANDY FRITZ

 

I grew up in Tonawanda, New York and raised my own family there as well. I have two children and three grandchildren ages 14, 9 and 8.   Prior to becoming a volunteer with Ohana 100, I spent many, many hours reading to my grandchildren and browsing bookshelves with them in libraries and bookstores.  I truly see the value in reading to young children. 

It's been rewarding to see my teenage granddaughter turn into a bookworm.  I also make time in my own life for reading and sharing good books with my daughter.

My other passion is crocheting.  Recently I made red hats for Little Hats Big Hearts, a project for the Children's Heart Foundation.  I was able to make hats for children at the Family Help Center.

After I retired from Sysco in 2014, I was searching for something rewarding to do with my time.  I discovered Ohana 100 at the Clarence Senior Center on the bulletin board and I immediately called Liz.  It is such a good feeling watching the faces of the children during a reading and getting hugs of gratitude afterwards.  Thank you Liz! 

ROSE LEONG

Aloha!  My students call me "Aunty Rose" and I am a happy volunteer for Ohana 100, a group that reads to children at some of our schools in Hawaii. This is my second year volunteering with Ohana 100 and I continue to enjoy reading to these youngsters, especially my Headstart classes. I have been impressed by the work of the teachers and their assistants as they prepare the children for future success in school.  A huge MAHALO for a job well done!

I graduated from the University of Hawaii and also attended graduate school at UCLA.  I have been with the Department of Education for my entire career.  My first assignment was at Ewa Beach Elementary school for two years.  In those early days, we lived on campus in the teachers cottage.  It was a great experience as we teachers had wonderful times together. We strolled or biked around the neighborhood and even walked to Puuloa Beach Park for a swim or better yet, we picked "ogo"--seaweed which was pickled and then taken home on weekends. I then transferred a bit closer to home and taught at the Kaneohe Marine Base--Mokapu Elementary School for a year.  My next assignment was a "town" school, Lincoln Elementary and there I remained until my retirement.  After teaching for over 25 years, I retired from the State.  I have been fortunate to  have worked with wonderful teachers and be guided by wise administrators.   I have two daughters; they did not follow my career choice in education but chose to become engineers!  Both live away, one in New York and the other in California with their families.   I have 5 grandchildren and am thrilled to have a new addition of a great granddaughter.

With my family away, I am fortunate to have time to do some volunteer work. I enjoy helping to promote literacy by reading to children. It has brought me much joy to be greeted so warmly by the children and being able to interact with classes just by sharing stories with them.  With the use of computers and other electronic devices, I believe our youngsters need to be introduced to books which help them use their imagination and make learning  fun. 

FRENCHIE COFFINET-SMITH

Bonjour! My name is Lorraine Coffinet-Smith and I have been a volunteer with Ohana100 since June 2017. I am so glad to have found this organization, as they are nothing like any other. The name summarizes it all: Ohana. I feel like I joined a family rather than a volunteer organization. I am so blessed to have found Liz and now being able to say that I read to children all around the islands.

I am a graduate from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and I am planning to apply to medical school to eventually become a pediatrician or surgeon. I thought that getting more experience with children would be a great idea and it sure is. I read to four different schools/programs and I love all of them.

One of my favorite moments is when I arrive in the classroom because when the children see me they become so excited and want to see what stories I brought for the day. And when I leave, it’s even more touching; they all want to come hug me at the same time but my arms are not big enough so I hug them.

Ohana100 gives hundreds of books to children at the end of the year and I can’t wait to play Santa Claus this year and witness their excitement and happiness when I bring the books.

I am also a private pilot.  Its a hobby I enjoy.  When Liz asked me if I wanted to go to Molokai and Maui to deliver some books and read there, I said yes right away. How could I say no to combining two great passions of mine.  Another volunteer joined me on this journey.  We flew to Maui in my tiny plane and spent the day with children. So many wonderful people welcomed us over there, read to a few classes in two schools and we got to give books. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had since I joined Ohana100 and I am looking forward to so many more.

Merci Liz for all you do, for the opportunity you give us to make children dream about reading.

SIBEL TURON

Prior to Ohana100, I volunteered my time reading to 1st and 2nd graders once a week through an organization called Reading Partners. Silly Doggy is one book that seems grab kids’ attention easily and amuses them quite a bit. Always nice to see their reaction to this story. 

My parents (of ethnic Kurdish descent from eastern Turkey) had a poverty-stricken upbringing that deprived them of basic necessities such as running water and electricity. They did not have the financial means to be able to get education past 5th grade. So we would not experience the hardships they lived through, they ensured that my siblings and I received a college education. This education would also work as our security and financial blanket for life. Hence the reason education/literacy cause is very close to my heart. 

My profession is Compensation within Human Resources.  In my spare time, I go hiking, running and exploring new places in Oahu. Recently, I have been reading interesting and inspiring autobiographies.  Currently, I am in between jobs (looking for professional opportunities in Oahu as I’d love to move here permanently) and have sufficient time to be able to dedicate reading to kids in the community. 

All the sessions are very special to me but the 1st time I ever read was at Ewa with Liz. Kids were very welcoming and affectionate, each one giving me a warm hug. Being able to engage the kids, especially getting participation from the quiet ones is always rewarding to me. 

Ohana100 has been blessed with visiting volunteers just like Bel, all year round.  She has read with over 500 children and worked with other volunteers during her stay in Hawaii.  Much Aloha and Thank You Bel for your service to Hawaii's children!!

RITA BATZ

I learned about Ohana100 through Volunteer Services at the Amherst Senior Center. The opportunity spoke to my own love of reading, especially reading to children.  

I have read with Ohana100 for over a year and have visited many sites- Newfane Early Childhood Center, ABCD Batavia, Family Help Center on Dingens Street and the Priscilla Project located on the west side of Buffalo serving refugee women and children.

I enjoy participating at the book EXPO which featured authors and more books.  I enjoy seeing the kids excitement regarding reading.  I've also made new friends by volunteering with Ohana100.  It is so nice!  I am retired and in good health and I hope to continue reading to children in the future.

LACY DENIZ

"I have volunteered for different groups/ organizations/ events.... but this is by far the best organization I've had the honor of working with."

I am currently the traffic reporter for Hawaii News Now Sunrise. Before Ohana 100,  I did read now and then to different schools. I have always loved reading and giving back to the community, so I felt that working with Ohana 100 and going into the schools and reading to students was a perfect match for me.  I am a huge Dr. Seuss fan so anytime I'm able to read one of those books I definitely take advantage of the opportunity.  

What I love most about being a volunteer with Ohana 100 is being able to get out in the community and help students. As a Hawaii girl born and raised, it makes me so happy to know that I'm able to go into our local schools and help our youth. I feel like every time I step into a classroom and read with the kids it creates a new memorable volunteer experience. I love seeing their faces light up when I start talking about a new book, or seeing them engage in my Q&A before and after a reading... most of all, I love seeing how ecstatic they are when they learn they're taking home a new book to add to their library at home. It truly is priceless knowing that within that hour of reading we're able to positively influence a child that will help them for the rest of their life. 

Lacy is one of our dedicated professionals, who finds time to give back to our community, after putting in a long days of work.   She's incredible!!!   Lacy read with children at Waianae Elementary, Lehua Elementary, Nimitz Elementary, Linapuni Head Start, HUGS and Fisher House.  Lacy was an advisor and speaker for Ohana100 Youth Summer Service Camp in July.  Kids planned, organized and implemented outreach activities.  She shared the importance of communication and provided them with helpful tips on public speaking.  Currently, Lacy reads with over 100 children every month, visiting Dole Head Start and Palolo Elementary Grades K and 1. 

SHEENA JULIANO

Aloha! My name is Sheena Carmela Juliano and I'm majoring in Elementary Education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Wanna hear my story? Once upon a time, I needed to make 100 community service hours for a Manoa Service Award scholarship I received. The problem was the hours only counted for what I do in Hawai'i, and I only had a month left before I was leaving to study abroad in London. How was I going to find an organization that would help me achieve those hours while having fun at the same time? Luckily, Ohana100 saved the day. 

Joining Ohana100 has truthfully felt like being a part of another Ohana. All those times I've spent with Liz and her daughter Catherine driving around the island of O'ahu to read to different schools has really helped me be more comfortable (and eager!) in becoming an elementary teacher one day. I never would have expected to read to over 100 children in just a week, but it's just become so addicting to want to read to more and more kids. There were days where I would read the same "Frozen" storybook to over 5 different classrooms or head start programs in a day, and seeing the smiles from the kids enjoying me being there to read to them made it worth it each time. Connecting and interacting with the kids that way through a good book is what really mattered to me. To me, a good story is one that takes the reader on an adventure in the most imaginative way. And Ohana100 has really helped me lead the children on an adventure with every visit.

My favorite part of my visits is the faces the kids make when I say "I've got a surprise for you...you get to take home your very own book today!" They get so excited to take it home and show it off, it's the most adorable thing in the world.

I'll definitely miss volunteering with Ohana100 while I'm away. I have had so many good reads all over the island: Kunia, Waianae, Kaneohe, Kalihi, Ewa, --it goes on. So really, thank you so much Liz for this amazing opportunity. You have really encouraged me to want to do more for my community with this legacy you have created here. I mean, who else gives away free books for kids to read? You're really the best for doing this because you believe in the power of reading. I'm really glad I had the honor of volunteering with you because I honestly feel like I would have missed out if I hadn't found out about Ohana100. Thank you for helping make the most of my last month here before my semester abroad, and I will definitely be back to read some more when I return! ~ 

This is only the beginning, Sheena Juliano

MARIE WOLF

Aloha! My name is Marie Wolf, and I feel blessed to have been with Ohana 100 for the past 10 months.

I am proud to say that I was a stay at home mom for 20 years. When I decided to return to the work force I worked retail, and retired after 28 years. During those years I was very fortunate to have babysat my 9 nine beautiful grandchildren before they entered school. I myself am a mother of 4; 3 daughters and 1 son. I became a widow last July and found myself in need of activities to fill my day. I was introduced to Ohana 100 through the Amherst Senior Center and had no idea how this program was going to fill so much more than just my time. This program has filled my heart with so much joy, especially when the children respond to me with loving hugs and excitement to hear more stories.

In addition to having joined Ohana 100, I have been volunteering as a 6th grade religious education teacher at St. Christopher’s Parish for 29 years.  I am also a lector for Sunday masses at St.Christopher Church as well. I enjoy volunteering at Williamsville North High School (where 2 of my grandchildren attend school) as a snack bar mom. Every Wednesday at Lindbergh Elementary, I work at the Lindy Mart, where students redeem tickets they have earned for good behavior. While I am there, I end my day helping my daughter in her 3rd grade classroom with any chores or preparation that needs to be done.

 As a mother of four children, I know the importance of encouraging children to read. When my children were little I was a library volunteer in their school.  Some of my fondest memories is snuggling and reading booksto my children as part of our daily bedtime routine. Some of my favoritre books I like to read to the children that we visit each week are Go Away Dog, Oliver the Elephant, and Carlos and the Librarian. My younger listeners enjoy pop-up books. I like to pass these books around after I read to let the children feel and see the pop up characters. I watch the expressions and excitement as they see the characters “come alive” and jump off the pages.  It is so satisfying to see the older listeners show interest as I spark their imagination and curiosity with a good book. Even the babies respond with looks of interest and alertness as I read. Not only does my heart melt with the children’s responses, but it also melts when the refugee mothers respond with body language that demonstrates excitement to my reading even though they can’t speak English. 

I love being an Ohana 100 volunteer! It is very satisfying and rewarding to be able to share the gift of reading with all the precious children and their families!

KAREN SCHARFENSTEIN

 am currently retired after working 48 years for the Federal, State and County governments.  I started as an accounting supervisor for the Federal government.  After 23 years of working for the Feds, I was appointed by two governors in the communications department doing news releases and media advisories and handling the governors’ public appearances.  After the governors’ terms ended, I moved over to the City and County of Honolulu, working for a couple of city council members as a legislative aide doing research and handling constituent affairs.  Twenty five years later after working for the state and City and County of Honolulu, I retired.  I enjoyed my interesting jobs and enjoyed going to work each day.

Reading is always something I have enjoyed.  For over 40 years, I started reading to my two girls often volunteering in their classrooms, reading to the students or helping tutor them.  I then read to my 17 year old grandson, reading the same books I had saved and read to my children.  Today I still read the same books to our Ohana 100 children.

Some of my favorite books are:  Tiki Tiki Tembo, Where the Wild Things Are, the Musubi Man, Being Thankful, Clifford books, Fox in Socks, Cat in Hat. Horton Hears a Who, 5 Chinese Brothers, Green Eggs and Ham, Chinaman’s Hat, books on dinosaurs and dolphins, Honu the Scared Turtle, and many more.  My children come from the Kuhio Park Terrace (4 classrooms plus a baby class), August Ahrens Headstart (2 classrooms), Waipahu Community Center (1 classroom) and Palolo Headstart (3 classrooms).  I will miss them as they move up to Kindergarten, but am excited to meet new students next year.

My most memorable experience is hearing the excited voices of children calling out their greeting to me as they see me pull into a parking space near their classroom and hearing them say – “it is reading time again!!!!!!.”  These children never cease to amaze me with their wide berth of imagination – so creative, so positive, so eager to learn.  They contribute to the story in ways I never imagined. They often think outside the box and add on to the story making it more interesting often times adding their own experiences to the story.  It is so gratifying to have them perk up and play act during story telling. 

I enjoy rereading all the old stories I have known my whole life.  Meeting new people and the Ohana100 people especially. All of you have made by life circle complete.  Ohana100 you feel like real family and I enjoy the activities you have planned and have done.  You are truly an inspiration to all of us. 

My most memorable experience is hearing the excited voices of children calling out their greeting to me as they see me pull into a parking space near their classroom and hearing them say – “it is reading time again!!!!!!.”  These children never cease to amaze me with their wide berth of imagination – so creative, so positive, so eager to learn.  They contribute to the story in ways I never imagined. They often think outside the box and add on to the story making it more interesting often times adding their own experiences to the story.  It is so gratifying to have them perk up and play act during story telling. 

I enjoy rereading all the old stories I have known my whole life.  Meeting new people and the Ohana100 people especially. All of you have made by life circle complete.  Ohana100 you feel like real family and I enjoy the activities you have planned and have done.  You are truly an inspiration to all of us.

Of course trying to make a difference in the critical years of a child’s life and being able to turn their lives around through reading and making a difference and trying to help them succeed in their future lives is my dream come true.  It feels like I have won a pot of gold with each child that I can convert to becoming a reader.  And, of course, those warm wonderful loving hugs which are so priceless and speak more than words.

Thank you, thank you Ohana 100 leaders for giving me this opportunity to read to children and for teaching and mentoring me.

CAROL ROCKFORD

After spending 40+ years in the financial workplace with an exhausting schedule plus a family life to maintain, I found myself retired with a lot of empty time!  I embraced the quiet time for a while until it became too quiet and too empty! 

Looking for meaningful volunteer work I came across Ohana 100 through the Clarence  Senior Center and it sounded very interesting.  After my first reading experience with them, I became very interested in the program and have continued volunteering. 

The children are amazing, fun and enthusiastic.  I was overwhelmed when recently reading and a child said "Miss Carol, I love you",  and other children wanted us to read even more stories.  It does truly warm the heart.  Some of my favorite stories are about  Elephant & Piggy, a series by Mo Williams.  The series is about two good friends and their daily adventures with attention to love, friendship and acceptance. 

I have definitely gotten way more out of this program then the time I've put into it~I'm so proud to be part of Ohana 100!!!.  

AVA ALDERS

I am a student at UH West Oahu and a member of the U.S. Coast Guard. I am currently in a scholarship program which allows me to go to school full time, participate in cool training and exposure with the Coast Guard.  Eventually, I will commission into a Coast Guard Officer.  

I have been so lucky to have met so many incredible mentors who have guided me, and I can see how directly those mentors shaped my dreams and helped me believe in myself -  this is why I wanted to volunteer with young kids!  I love what I get to do, and I am so grateful to all the people and experiences which have helped me on my path here.

My reading experience prior to Ohana 100 was reading to my little brother when we were both kids. He is 3 years younger than me, so for the short period of time when I could read and he couldn't, I would read him stories before bed. I used to mess with him and change some of the words to his favorite stories, because I knew he would notice. I used to replace peoples name's with French Fry and Hamburger and silly words like that and he used to laugh so hard. I really cherish those memories!

I am currently reading to a group of 60 Head Start kids at Aiea Elementary.  I have two favorite things about reading to kids:  First, I get to read kids books again! Children's books are often hilarious, and I really enjoy going to the library and picking out funny books to bring to the school. Sometimes I think I enjoy the books more than the kids do. 

Second, I love talking to the kids when I'm reading and asking them questions. During a dramatic moment in our story I will ask them: "What do you think is gonna happen next?" - The answers they give me crack me up! Sometimes the guesses and predictions they make about the stories are so creative and funny! Its really always a surprise and I love hearing what they have to say. 

Overall, working with Ohana 100 has been awesome!  I think reading is SO important for kids, and being read to in a really engaging and fun way for kids to practice their focus and critical thinking skills. I feel really lucky to have found this awesome opportunity. 

HILDE SMITH

As a youngster who could read at an early age I loved to read to other kids, recite poems and act out stories. My teaching career started in the American Dependents School in Frankfurt, Germany where I taught German to 2nd and 3rd grade students for two years before I came over here and ended up as a German teacher in High School. I loved my job and found it very satisfying. I fondly remember the younger children who were so responsive and attentive, and due to their younger age parroted my speaking with no accent noticeable when they spoke German. They even sang "Silent Night" in German on the  American Forces Network ( Radio).

So -- when I learned at the Senior Center that they were looking for readers, I volunteered. Furthermore I wanted to find out about Ohana 100, since I knew that "ohana" means family.  I learned that on our trips to Maui.  

I have enjoyed my reading with you, often the children respond actively, wanting more than one book, and the best is when some step forward and give you a hug or wave to you.

LOIS TAGAMI

 “Hi, Aunty!  Hi, Aunty!”  The voices of 20 preschool students filled the air as I entered their classroom.  “What books are you going to read us today?”  “Are you going to read us the one about the penguin again?  I liked that one!” 

Once a month, I visit the classrooms of four Headstart Programs across the island --- Wahiawa Elementary, Kaala Elementary, Kipapa Elementary, and Salt Lake Elementary.  As a retired elementary school librarian, I cherish the opportunity to be able to continue to share the joy found in reading and books by reading aloud to classrooms of three to five year olds.  I capture their attention, hearts, and minds by pairing up a fiction book with a nonfiction book.  In November, the children listened to A House for Hermit Crab  (Carle), then shared what they knew about crabs and learned some other facts about them from a nonfiction book about crabs.  In December, the children listened to A Christmas Wish for Corduroy (Freeman) and learned more about bears, then got an extra treat:  free books to fill the shelves of their home libraries.

Ms. Lois from Ohana 100 Reads to Head Start Children

https://www.hcapweb.org/hcap-weekly-may-30-2016/

I am so thrilled and fortunate to be a part of the Ohana 100 family that provides the gifts of literacy to the children of Hawaii through read-alouds and book giveaways.   As I pack up to leave, the clamor of little voices fill the classroom,  “Bye, Aunty!” “Bye Aunty!” and the students rush in to give me a big hug.  In return, I call out,  “Goodbye, my friends!  See you next month!!  

 

Mahalo to our volunteers for your dedication and continued commitment in helping Hawai'i and New York keikis! We are honored that you are part of our Ohana!