A big congratulations to Palama Settlement Digital Arts Academy student, Tala! Tala and her robotics team from Manoa Elementary School competed in the VEX Robotics World Championship in Texas last month. Four Manoa Elementary School teams qualified to be in four world divisions and all four teams made it into the TOP 20! They also all won awards in their divisions and Tala’s Team won “The Build Award in the Research Division!”
Tala’s parents first introduced her to programming when she was 7. Last summer, they enrolled Tala in the Coding in Unity class at Palama Settlement. She loved the class and it was motivation for her to apply for her school’s Robotics Program where she was chosen to be the programmer for her team.
Congratulations once again Tala and to all of Tala’s teammates!
Palama Settlement is proud to announce the appointment of David Tautofi as the organization’s Pakolea Manager. In his new role, Tautofi will oversee all aspects of the Pakolea sports program at Palama Settlement.
Initiated in 1968, the Pakolea Program was created as a response to the low number of high school graduates from the Palama Settlement neighborhood. It was then called the Academic Achievement Program, based on the philosophy that sports participation could be motivation to enhance academic performance. In 1977, a social behavioral component was added to improve the interpersonal skills and relationships of the participants with their peers, parents, and community. Today, Pakolea focuses on positive character development, success in academics, and improvement in social-emotional well-being.
“It’s an honor and privilege to be a part of Palama Settlement,” said David Tautofi, Pakolea Manager for Palama Settlement. “I look forward to working with the youth, their families, the communities, and leaders who have a genuine heart and interest in prioritizing and impacting the youth, preparing them for the future.”
Tautofi was formerly the varsity football head coach for Kaimuki High School where he was recognized as Oahu Interscholastic Association Coach of the Year in 2015 and 2019; Honolulu Star Advertiser Coach of the Year in 2019, and KHON2 Cover2 Coach of the Year in 2019. In his five seasons at Kaimuki High School, Coach Tautofi led Kaimuki to three championship appearances winning their first OIA Championship in 2019 and became the winningest coach in Kaimuki history.
Prior to his move back to Hawaii in 2015, Tautofi was an Athletic Director in Las Vegas building athletic programs in the elementary, middle school, and high school levels.
During his athletic career, Tautofi competed in football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, and paddling at Kaimuki High School. He also played football for Missouri Valley College, Fresno City College, and as captain for the University of California – Los Angeles.
He also works with a number of local organizations on community outreach including food distributions, community improvement and engagement, and youth leadership development.
“We are so happy to welcome Mr. Tautofi to Palama Settlement,” said Sam Aiona, executive director of Palama Settlement. “His passion and experience in mentoring our community youth will be such a big asset to this program. We are looking forward to all Mr. Tautofi will bring to this program and to the lives of our student athletes.”
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.
Digital Arts Academy classes for Summer 2022 are full, however, if you are interested in placing your child on our waitlist,
please fill out this registration form: https://forms.gle/uGfpCJvXG7mFgJsz7
The Palama Settlement Board of Trustees is pleased to announce Sam Aiona as the organization’s new Executive Director.
As Executive Director, Aiona will provide strong leadership and vision for the future of Palama Settlement. He will also guide the organization through reassessing its strategic plan, ensuring it continues to provide vibrant programs and essential services that uphold its mission of serving those who have the greatest needs in the community.
Aiona was the former Director of the State Office of Community Services where he engaged with nonprofits throughout the state assisting those who were economically disadvantaged. He most recently served as a loan specialist at the State’s Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation. He previously represented the Makiki district as a State Representative in the Hawaii State Legislature.
“Palama Settlement has a long history of being a safe gathering place for the residents of Kalihi and Palama and we need to continue the tradition of being the hub for this community,” says Aiona. “It is an honor to be selected as the Executive Director and I look forward to serving the people to enrich their lives for generations to come.”
Aiona has worked with numerous nonprofits and previously served on several boards including the Hawaii Public Housing Authority, Catholic Charities Hawaii Members of the Corporation, HOPE Services, and Friends of the Missing Child Center to name a few.
“Today’s world is very different from the times when you could get your teeth fixed for 10 cents at Palama Settlement. We can never go back to those days, but we can still provide for the people of this community as Palama Settlement has done for 125 years,” Aiona said. “The tradition will continue.”
“We are so happy to welcome Mr. Aiona to Palama Settlement,” said Lauren Yoo, president of the Palama Settlement Board of Trustees. “He brings a wealth of experience and leadership to this organization, and we are so excited for Palama’s future.”
Born and raised in Hilo, Aiona has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. He is married to Cherrie Aiona and has two teenage daughters.
It’s been such an exciting year for Palama Settlement and yet there is so much more in the works for 2022! One of the highlights of our year came at the tail end as a group of University of Hawai‘i Architecture students presented their final group projects aimed at helping Palama Settlement improve its campus, accessibility, and public access for the entire community to enjoy.
The idea for this class project was initiated by Michael Bennett, former NFL star and humanitarian, along with Jasper Wong, founder and lead director of POW! WOW!. The two friends were discussing the lack of public facilities for the youth and elderly in the Kalihi/Palama area. They really wanted to help build a community gathering place in the area and felt Palama Settlement would be a great location. Since neither of the two are architects, Jasper Wong reached out to a good friend, Bundit Kanisthakhon, who is both an architect and professor.
Under the direction of Professor Kanisthakhon, his class Arch 490 explored the idea of inclusive design to help make our environment usable and friendly for everyone. The mission was to integrate the programmatic needs of Palama Settlement with design generated in this class to achieve safe, convenient, and appealing environments without barriers for people from the community. It will also help foster the awareness of both natural and built environments not only within the Palama Settlement campus but also the neighboring areas. Students were encouraged to identify problematic areas and to come up with empathetic design solutions. They were also encouraged to explore various ways to enhance the sense of community through creative design approaches with arts and architecture. The long-term goal is to implement some of these ideas into Palama Settlement’s campus in the near future.
Mahalo to Jasper Wong, Michael Bennett, and Bundit Kanisthakhon for your creative thinking and compassion in these first steps to making Palama Settlement more accessible to everyone in the community!
Giving people hope in a time of uncertainty. Offering help in someone’s time of need. These are the core values that have been at the forefront of Palama Settlement’s identity.
These past couple of years have been difficult. A crisis like the world has never seen. But just like we have for the last 125 years, Palama Settlement refocused back to our core mission on tackling the greatest needs of our community.
When the state shut down in 2020, we expanded our Emergency Food Pantry. Last year, our community services team distributed more than 10,000 boxes of food and other basic necessities to residents in need. As many of our neighborhood students were attending classes away from their teachers and vital school resources, we opened our doors and provided computers, internet, and tutors to ensure they would not fall behind. This year, instead of scaling back we plunged forward and launched the new Center for Innovation Digital Arts Academy that helped our youth enhance their digital arts and technology skills and encouraged them to dream big.
Palama Settlement is a gathering place for everyone from children to kupuna. It’s a center where anyone could learn, share stories, receive basic necessities, and be a part of our ‘ohana. We assured the community that Palama Settlement will continue to be here in good times and in bad.
The first 125 years were only the beginning as we still have so much to accomplish. But we can’t do it alone. We hope you will join us on this journey and give what you can. Help us serve those with the greatest needs, just as our founders envisioned 125 years ago.
Click the link below to make a gift to Palama Settlement and the communities we serve today!