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The Palama Settlement Digital Arts Academy Receives Grant from The Creative City

The Palama Settlement Digital Arts Academy Receives Grant from The Creative City
Honolulu, HI—Palama Settlement’s Digital Arts Academy headed by POW! WOW! founder and lead director, Jasper Wong, received a generous and timely $8,000 grant from The Creative City, according to Anna Stone, program administrator for Palama Settlement. The inaugural class of the Digital Arts Academy included 15 high school students, some who do not own an iPad, and needed to borrow devices from the Palama Settlement learning center to complete their projects.
The generous grant was used to purchase new iPads for the Digital Arts students, which is integral to the students’ creative aspirations. “It is important that students have the freedom and confidence to express their creativity. Having their own iPad that they can take home, and use beyond the classroom, affords a complete experience with digital arts,” said Karen Chang Blangiardi, founder of The Creative City.
“Words can’t express our sincere gratitude to Karen Chang and The Creative City for this generous gift,” said Anna Stone. “Our Digital Arts students are so talented. This grant will ensure they now have the proper tools to share their creativity with the world.”
“When I was child my parents owned a shop near Farrington High School, so this neighborhood has always been near and dear to my heart. I know what an art and technology school at Palama Settlement could do for this community that is overflowing with talented youth that may not have the proper tools that could take their talent to the next level,” said Jasper Wong. “I am so grateful for The Creative City for jumping in to support the aspirations of my art students.”
The Creative City is dedicated to providing leadership and resources to grow O’ahu into a place where culture and arts play a major role in delivering quality of life for everyone. The Creative City strives to increase access to and opportunities in the arts, as well as create a sustainable creative ecosystem for our island community. The Creative City fund is managed by the Hawai’i Community Foundation, with distribution of funds stewarded by The Creative City fund advisors. For more information, visit www.thecreativecity.org.
Established in 1896, Palama Settlement is a nonprofit, community-based social service agency serving the Kalihi and Palama neighborhoods. Palama Settlement offers a wide range of educational, recreational, athletic, cultural, social, health, and community building programs and services for children, youth, adults, and senior citizens. Palama Settlement’s mission is to partner with those who have the greatest needs in the community, empowering them to enhance their well-being through health, education, and recreation. For more information, visit www.palamasettlement.org.

Jasper Wong, POW! WOW! founder and lead director, works with his students from the Digital Arts Academy class at Palama Settlement this past summer. A Digital Arts Academy student works on a class project using an iPad this past summer.
11 Oct

Palama Settlement Welcomes New Members to its Board of Trustees

Palama Settlement is pleased to welcome Antonet Barut, Tim Gillaspie, Lowell Gillia, Daniel Lam,
Glenn Medeiros, and Stevie-Lyn Takata to its Board of Trustees.

Antonet Barut
Antonet Barut has over 21 years of Hawaii real estate sales experience. Barut is an eight-year Air Force veteran and specializes in working with veterans, first time home buyers, and luxury clients. She has also been an eight-time Ruby Award Winner; Top Producer; TOP 100 REALTOR team member; and a multiple Aloha ‘Āina Award nominee, an award based on client nominations that honors realtors who have gone above and beyond in client service and maintain the highest ethical standards. Barut is also a former program participant of Palama Settlement and looks forward to serving on the Board of Trustees. She enjoys hiking, fishing, and traveling in her spare time. Barut is also a donor and volunteer of Farrington High School and actively supports the school’s band scholarship program.

Tim Gillaspie
Tim Gillaspie is a Senior Program Manager for Amazon Web Service (AWS) where he manages a team of cross functional experts to field strategically impactful programs for AWS training and certification. Tim is a recently retired Air Force Colonel whose last assignment was as Logistics Operations Division Chief for US Indo-Pacific Command. He had 11 other assignments from base level to the Headquarters Air Force in the Pentagon. He has served on the board of Habitat for Humanity in Montgomery, Alabama, President of four different local chapters of the Logistics Officer Association (LOA), and the Chair of the LOA National Board of Directors Nominating Committee. He currently serves as a class representative on the U.S. Air Force Academy Class Advisory Senate and as president of the Hawaii Triathlon Center Club.

Lowell Gillia
Lowell Gillia is President and Creative Director of Design Asylum, a locally-owned full-service, multidisciplinary design firm. The design firm focuses on developing integrated brand strategies for clients including brand and logo concepts, graphic design, and website development. Gillia also serves as a lecturer at Honolulu Community College for courses such Portfolio Presentation, Typography, and Beginning Graphic Design. Gillia is also a multiple Pele Award recipient. He has served the community for several organizations including Lanakila Pacific and Nuuanu Elementary School. Gillia has been married for over 18 years and has two sons. In his spare time, Gillia enjoys collecting comic books and doing home renovations.

Daniel Lam
Daniel Lam is a business attorney with Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel LLP where he assists public and private companies in various structural, governance, and transactional matters. He specializes in corporate (profit and nonprofit), LLC, partnership, contract, and securities laws, and handles compliance, negotiation, and drafting matters in various areas including mergers and acquisitions, capital raises, and commercial contracts. Lam has been recognized as a Hawaii State Bar Association Leadership Institute Fellow in 2018; a selection to Super Lawyers Rising Stars each year since 2018; and a selection to Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch for 2021 and 2022. He is fluent in conversational Japanese and is active in the community, volunteering for a number of nonprofit organizations including the Hawaii State Junior Golf Association (includes First Tee Hawaii) where he serves on the board of directors and as treasurer, Business Law Corps, Volunteer Legal Services Hawai‘i, and Hawaii State Bar Foundation. Lam is a graduate of Creighton University School of Law, Gonzaga University, and Punahou School. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family and playing golf.

Dr. Glenn Medeiros
Dr. Glenn Medeiros is in his seventh year as President of Saint Louis School. Prior to joining Saint Louis School, Dr. Medeiros served as an Assistant Professor at Chaminade University. For 8 years, Dr. Medeiros served as Vice Principal and high school teacher at Maryknoll School. Medeiros is also a singer and songwriter who achieved national and international success. Medeiros is a graduate of University of Southern California’s Rosier School of Education and University of Hawai‘i – West O‘ahu. Medeiros was born in Lihue, Kauai. He and his wife Tammy have a son, Chord, and daughter, Lyric.

Stevie-Lyn Takata
Stevie-Lyn Takata is the co-founder of branding and marketing agency, Refinery Creative, where her expertise spans a wide range of tactics including brand strategy, traditional and digital marketing and advertising, content production, and more. With a passion to help build thriving communities, Takata specializes in marketing for real estate developments. In her former role as Vice President of Client Services at Honolulu marketing company Ocean Blue, she has contributed to the successful delivery of projects such as Park Lane Ala Moana, The Collection, Waihonua at Kewalo, and Pacifica Honolulu, as well as the residential and retail offerings at Ward Village. In addition to her work with Palama Settlement, Takata serves on the board of ULI Hawaii Young Leaders Group and is the current past president of the AIGA Honolulu board of directors. She is a proud graduate of Seattle University and Kamehameha Schools Kapālama.

8 Sep

City Mill Donates $10,000 to Help Preserve Palama Settlement History

As Palama Settlement prepares to commemorate its 125th Anniversary, City Mill and the David C. Ai Charitable Trust present a large donation to
ensure Kalihi /Palama’s history will be preserved.
(HONOLULU) City Mill’s David C. Ai Charitable Trust presented the historic Palama Settlement with a generous donation to assist with a large-scale preservation and digitization project of photos, historic newspaper articles, annual reports, neighborhood surveys, oral histories and so much more.

“When we first opened the archives, Steven Ai was among the first to visit and was impressed with all the photos and documents that had been preserved for more than 100 years,” said Paula Rath, trustee emeritus for the Palama Settlement Board of Trustees. “Since City Mill has experienced three fires during their storied history, he expressed concern for the welfare of the archives and the importance of digitizing our thousands of photos and documents. At that moment, he promised that the David C. Ai Charitable Trust would help enable our digitization.”

“We are pleased to support this wonderful project which will help preserve the extraordinary collection of history and memories in the Kalihi-Palama area,” said Steven Ai, president and CEO of City Mill. “From its start 125 years ago, Palama Settlement has chronicled the people, culture and events that has exemplified the spirit and community of this area. This project will ensure that its photo and document collections will now be preserved digitally for current and future generations to see.”

“My late mother, Jacky Rath, a retired librarian, spent more than ten years converting random boxes of photos, newspaper articles, and historical documents into an organized Finding Aid,” said Rath. “This made our cataloging and digitization possible. She would be amazed at the current digitization process, as she created the Finding Aid entirely in pencil, without the aid of a computer.”

With the generous donation, Palama Settlement was recently able to properly outfit the Palama Archives and begin the process of digitization.

Established in 1896, Palama Settlement is a nonprofit, community-based social service agency serving the Kalihi and Palama neighborhoods. Palama offers a wide range of educational, recreational, athletic, cultural, social, health, and community building programs and services for children, youth, adults, and senior citizens. Palama Settlement’s mission is to partner with those who have the greatest needs in the community, empowering them to enhance their well-being through health, education, and recreation.

Carol Ai May and Steven Ai
Photo Courtesy: City Mill

18 May

Coding Classes Offer Fun and Creative Social Space for Youth

When Palama Settlement announced the start of virtual coding classes for youth in June of this year, Blaze did not want to join. He had no prior experience with coding and his parents had to bargain with him to enroll in the class. Fast forward four months and Blaze is now one of the most active and enthusiastic participants, coming to each session prepared with questions and ideas to share with his peers. “At first he didn’t want to join because he didn’t know what it was,” said his mother. “I had to bargain with him to try it out and now he’s so grateful that I signed him up. He loves it!”

These virtual coding classes are an ongoing activity through Palama Settlement, taught by Anna Gustafson and Kasey Kawaguchi. The classes consist of prerecorded video lessons, which Anna films and Kasey then edits and uploads to Google Classroom so students can learn at their own pace. The youth then comes together twice a week for virtual “office hours” with Anna and Kasey, which began as a check in and chance for them to ask questions but quickly became a more collaborative, social space for students to help each other debug their projects and play together.

There are 18 youth registered in coding class at Palama, ranging from age 7 to 13 years. The self-paced curriculum allows Anna to juggle various learning levels, from beginner to advanced. For each level there is different curriculum, all developed by Anna. The beginner students work within Scratch, a block-based visual programming language, to make puzzle platform style games similar to Super Mario. The advanced students work in Unity, a real-time, 3D game creation software used by real world games like NASCAR Heat 5, Call of Duty: Mobile, and Wasteland 3.

Some students like to create marble-run games based around the mechanics of physics, while others prefer more combat-style scrolling games that make use of running and shooting actions. Anna challenges students to think creatively about how to use these actions within their games without making them violent. For instance, one student created a garden that is invaded by rabbits, but instead of chasing and shooting them, the player must feed them until they get very fat and then coax them out of the garden.

Palama’s coding class is unique in that the students guide their own learning experience. They watch the tutorials and develop their own games. Since the program is ongoing, they are able to tell Anna what they enjoy doing, what they’d like to learn next, and how they want to learn it so she can develop new curriculum tailored to their needs and interests. “Projects are not graded so there’s no pressure if students aren’t keeping up with the rest of the class,” explains Anna. “Participation is always voluntary, so it is up to the kids to decide whether they want to play in the space or not.” This level of autonomy has worked well for the class, with over half the students voluntarily attending check-in every single week and staying for the full hour, even asking that the time be extended by another hour.

The classes provide the students with much more than just coding lessons. The weekly check-ins are a chance for social interaction while school is remote and spending time together in person is impossible. One student, Kyle, told Anna he has not left his house – even for a walk – since March, but he doesn’t mind. He is the oldest and most advanced in the coding class but still attends each check-in and stays for the full session. As a teenager, Kyle is usually a little more reserved than the younger students but comes out of his shell when he is working with them to debug their games.

Coding has provided a fun and supportive space for all students, particularly during the transition of schools to distance learning. The students found the start of school in August to be overwhelming, with new demands and challenges and simply a lot of time in front of the computer. But the class is an activity they can choose for themselves, which offers an outlet for creativity, for fun, and for socialization.

If you would like to help support Palama’s coding program, your donation of $30 covers the cost of one two-hour class plus the week’s curriculum for one student. You can make your gift by visiting www.palamasettlement.org/donate or mailing a check to 810 N. Vineyard Boulevard, Honolulu, HI 96817. Please make a note with your online donation or on your check that your gift is for “Coding Classes”. Mahalo!

14 Oct

New Program to Help Students With Distance Learning

Palama Settlement has launched a new endeavor called the Xcel Program, to provide students with the resources they need to be successful in their distance learning. Many students are struggling to attend class and complete their work now that school has moved online, due to a number of factors which may include not having access to a computer, not having access to wifi, not having a quiet space at home to focus on the class, or not having a home environment that provides enough guidance and support. Palama is hoping to address these needs by opening up the Henry & Colene Wong Computer Center and the Cecilia Blackfield Academic Center for small groups of middle and high school students. Both spaces have all the equipment students might need for class and allow for social distancing of six feet or more.

The seven students currently participating in the Xcel Program attend McKinley and St. Theresa. They are also Pakolea Program football players with Palama. Five of the seven students do not have access to a computer and none of the students have access to wifi at home. All were recruited to participate in the program through outreach to their families after the Hawaii Department of Education made the announcement that public schools would move fully online through October 2.

The staff has been actively encouraging students to participate in class and ask questions, after it was made clear multiple students were struggling with their assignments. The students are often too embarrassed to ask questions or seek help because they see it as a sign of weakness instead of a sign of strength. It was only after the coaches sat down with the youth to talk to them about the importance of keeping up with their academics that they began to make an effort to complete make up work.

The Xcel Program will continue until schools can safely resume in person.

This program is made possible, in part, through generous funding from Alexander & Baldwin and Douglas Emmett.

17 Sep

Palama in the News: HNN HInow segment with Kainoa Carlson


Thank you to Hawaii News Now and Kainoa Carlson for featuring Palama Settlement’s Emergency Food Pantry this morning! Check out the segment about our Community Services manager Pauni Escue and the work she and her team are doing to address food insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic.

10 Aug

Keiki Meals Have Been Moved to Lunch Time to Accommodate On-Campus Youth Programs

Palama’s free grab-and-go keiki meals are now available during lunch time from 11:00-12:00 PM. We will no longer be serving suppers in the late afternoon. Pick up is still in the front parking lot at 810 N. Vineyard Boulevard, Honolulu, HI 96817. Just drive up and let our staff know how many meals you need for your keiki (any youth under the age of 18 years).

We have changed the time of our meals so we can serve the two youth programs that have restarted on campus – Summer Enrichment Program (SEP) and In-Community Treatment Program (ICTP). SEP and ICTP are now in session on campus in a modified format and are benefiting from the summer lunch program. Meals are still available to the general public; keiki do not need to be enrolled in a program on campus to pick up a meal.

6 Jul

Fun Summer Activities at Palama Settlement

After two long months of being closed and suspending all but essential activities at Palama Settlement, we are excited to announce the start of two more activities this summer – our Summer Enrichment Program for keiki and Beginner Watercolor Class for kupuna.

Summer Enrichment Program is open to keiki grades K-5 and offers enriching, creative activities to encourage children to explore and learn about the world around them. This year, due to COVID-19, there are only 32 spots in the program available and children will be split into groups of eight to allow for social distancing. Masks will be required. There will be no field trips and more focus on arts and crafts, cooking, computer classes, and other activities on campus.


Beginner Watercolor Class will be taught by Dawn Yoshimura using Google Meet and Google Classroom. Students will need their own computer or tablet to participate in classes, plus art supplies, which may be purchased or rented. There is limited space in this class so call today to register!

10 Jun

Kahala Nui supports Palama Settlement’s COVID-19 efforts



Kahala Nui recently made an incredible donation of $253,540 through Aloha United Way to support a number of local organizations’ COVID-19 response efforts. Palama Settlement is one of the recipients of this money, which will go to support our emergency food pantry, pantry deliveries to kupuna, and grab-and-go keiki suppers during the COVID-19 stay-home order. Kahala Nui has been a longtime supporter of our organization, donating hundreds of care bags to Palama each holiday season filled with canned goods and home and hygiene products, which we distribute to homebound kupuna in Kalihi-Palama. We are incredibly grateful for Kahala Nui’s inspiring sense of philanthropy and community and are humbled to receive funding that will allow us to continue our pandemic response efforts for the vulnerable.

Mahalo, Kahala Nui!

Link to the KITV news story here.

27 Apr

The Spirit of Aloha During COVID-19

Due to the government mandated statewide COVID-19 shutdown, most of us are staying home, working from home, and minimizing our trips to the grocery store. We’re seeing layoffs and financial instability among many of our families here in Hawaii. But we’re also seeing some really wonderful examples of the Spirit of Aloha and ohana during this time of uncertainty, and these gestures give us hope and encouragement.

Since March 30 we have been serving free grab-and-go lunches to keiki and youth, thanks to a partnership with Kapi`olani Community College, Aloha Harvest, Hawaii Appleseed, and Hawaii Child Nutrition Programs. We know many children in our neighborhood qualify for free or reduced lunches and rely on that daily meal. Palama’s lunch is a valuable replacement for school meals, helping to lower the weekly family grocery bill and simply making one less task for parents during a long day of juggling work, academic assignments, and housework. Families are able to drive into our parking lot and stay in their car while our staff brings out the boxed lunches to their trunk, to minimize contact.



Local businesses have stepped up to help, too. Meadow Gold Hawaii donated cartons of yogurt and juice to KCC, which were included with the lunch distributions this week and given out to families. And HMSA has made a monetary donation to help offset the costs incurred by the program.

Beginning on April 13, Palama will switch to serving grab-and-go keiki suppers from 3:30 to 4:30 to round out a full day of meals, while Likelike Elementary will begin to serve breakfast and lunch.

Our emergency food pantry is also open. In the last week and a half we have served over 1,300 people through our food pantry distributions. This week we have begun deliveries of pantry items to kupuna as well, to better serve those who do not have the transportation to come to campus. Both individual donors and local businesses have made incredible contributions to support our pantry, giving both monetary gifts and donations of food. Fresh Island Delights LLC has donated almost 800 fresh fruit bowls and Ham Produce and Seafood has made multiple donations of potatoes, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, lettuce, snap peas, and mushrooms. Both contributions ensure families receive not only canned goods, but fresh produce too.



The Henry and Colene Wong Foundation has made a monetary donation to the Hawaii Foodbank to be used by Palama as credit for purchases, which will go a long way in keeping the pantry stocked through this crisis. Every1ne Hawaii has donated 700 surgical masks and 50 KN95 masks to Palama to help keep everyone safe. The surgical masks will be distributed in the kupuna deliveries and the KN95 masks will be worn by our staff while they interact with the community.

The efforts of our staff and the generous spirit of our donors has made a big impression on our clients. One kupuna called us yesterday to thank Palama for the delivery of food. She wanted to express her aloha and gratitude, saying the box really made a difference to her family, who has no car to get to the store. Another mother told us before she received her food pantry distribution, she only had one egg at home and cooked it and cut it in half to share with her daughter.

We are heartened by our community sharing their resources with those in need, especially in this difficult and stressful period. We want to say mahalo nui loa to each of our donors and partners for supporting us and enabling us to further our mission.

Mahalo to Supporters of Our Essential Services (as of April 27, 2020):

Jeffrey Aasen
Bruce Alameida, in memory of Emilia Alameida
Daria Cho
Lenore Enzel
James Factor
Joan Foley
Mae Fusato
Linda Gee
Lisa Iguchi
Anna Kurr
Charles Lee
Sharon Nagasako, in memory of Roy and Gladys Yoshimura
Alan Nishimura
Jean Nishimura
Ron Okamura
Jennifer Oyer
Sherry Mae Ravago
Jari Sugano
Judith Taylor
Terry Viergutz, in memory of Sabina Imbo Plaza McWilliams
Benjamin Wang
Lauren Yoo
Merryl Young

Alexander & Baldwin
Create with Clay Hawaii, Inc.
D. Otani Produce
Every1ne Hawaii
Fresh Tropical Delights LLC
Ham Produce and Seafood
Kahala Nui

Cooke Foundation, Ltd.
German Benevolent Society
Henry and Colene Wong Foundation

10 Apr