Mayor Kenoi Helps Kick Off National Training Workshops for Pacific Community Coalitions

Media Release:

On August 20 and 21 representatives from community coalitions on 4 Hawaiian Islands, Guam, Palau, American Samoa and Los Angeles gathered at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott for high-quality training by Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA).  The mission: to support the work these diverse groups are doing now, and to help them target strategic solutions for their community’s problems related to drug and alcohol abuse.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), provides the federal funding for Drug Free Coalitions, and works in conjunction with CADCA. Based in the Washington D.C. area, CADCA was formed in 1992. CADCA Institute provides training and technical assistance, public policy advocacy, media strategies and marketing programs, conferences and special events to community coalitions around the world.

Beth Mehau, Mayor Billy Kenoi and Hamakua Youth Center representative Lanakila Mangauil

Beth Mehau, Mayor Billy Kenoi and Hamakua Youth Center representative Lanakila Mangauil

About 50 people attended the training program, which included 2 days of workshops plus one-on-one mentoring sessions, and access to individual telephone conferencing for a year.  Mayor Billy Kenoi helped kick off the workshops, sponsored by the North Hawaii Drug-Free Coalition (NHDFC) and others.  Kenoi has been active in drug-free issues since 2000, when he served as Mayor Harry Kim’s Executive Assistant/Anti-drug Coordinator.

“It is nice to see CADCA and North Hawaii Drug-Free Coalition bringing technology and assistance to Hawaii Island … so we all can continue to work for drug-free communities,” said Kenoi.  “I am proud that on this Island, everyone in every geographic region is committed to cooperation and collaborative effort.”

“The more we put aside ego and competing ideologies the better we work together, the better we do at creating our goal, which is safe and healthy drug-free communities in Hawaii.  If our children are healthy and safe, families healthy and safe, certainly our community will be healthy and safe as well,” said Kenoi.

Event coordinator for NHDFC, Beth Mehau has been working for 5 years to bring the CADCA training here.  “Finally our island people are communicating with each other in a common language that will help identify common problems and be able to share resources while gaining compassion for the differences, allowing us to better understand how we may serve each other.”

According to Mehau, CADCA gifted all the training, while NHDFC and the Drug-Free Coalition on Oahu were able to find resources to assist with transportation.  “Waikoloa Beach Marriott has really been a partner in this,” she said. “SAHMSA allowed Drug Free Coalitions to revise their remaining federal budgets to help get people here—and a county grant from Healing Our Island helped with some of the expenses.”

Nine participants from American Samoa came to Hawaii for the training.  Underage drinking is a big issue, there as here, where social norms and family gatherings make access easier.  Aloha Nuusila, of the Saole Coalition said, “I am finding this very enlightening.  I am an instructor at the community college back home, and I know by the end of the meeting we will be doing a lot more when we go home.”

Joelle Aoki, Executive Director of Coalition for a Drug-Free Lanai, has been involved for almost 20 years.   “The Community wanted to form a grassroots organization to deal with the drug and alcohol problem,” she said.  The island experienced a significant increase in alcohol and drug abuse during the transition from agriculture to tourism.  One contributing factor, according to Aoki, is the lack of parental supervision as people move from plantation hours to resort hours.

“We need to increase ownership {of community problems},” says NHDFC’s Program Co-Coordinator Jan Sears.  “The three questions people can ask are: ‘How does it affect me, what am I going to have to do differently and how can I help in my own way?’  For NHDFC, we may be asking everybody to speak up.  Speak up if you see kids drinking or smoking.  Take on the community role of keeping an eye on the kids next door.”

Lanakila Mangauil, of the Hamakua Youth Center was one of the original members of NHDFC’s youth task force.  “He eats, sleeps and breathes community service,” said Mehau.  Mangauil, a graduate of Kanu O Ka ‘Āina started teaching hula and oli to younger students voluntarily while he was still in high school.

“I’m ‘opio,” he said.  “My birthright is to teach the generation below me and to keep learning from the one in front of me.”  After participating in a National Youth Culture Exchange program with Native American youth in Arizona, California and Hawaii, Mangauil was inspired to do more at home.  “Everybody is responsible for their own communities, he said, “especially our young men.”

“This inspiration is critical,” said Mehau.  “I ask myself ‘What causes people to have passion and desire for altruistic behavior in times like these?’ Right now more than ever we need this invigoration.”  Mehau and NHDFC would like to bring in CADCA’s technology track and youth track programs, to keep the momentum going and take our communities to the next level.

For more information or to help advance the causes of a safe, healthy and drug free Hawaii, please visit http://www.fivemountains.org/nhdfc.

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