Funding Sought For Design of Paukukalo Boys & Girls Club
By Wendy Osher
Dozens of beneficiaries of social service agencies on Maui offered testimony before a standing-room only crowd at Pomaikai Elementary School on Monday night.
The testimony was received by the Maui County Council’s Committee on Budget and Finance, whose members are reviewing requests for the FY2013 budget.
One such request was for planning design and project management monies to house a Boys & Girls Club in Paukukalo.
“When I took over three years ago, we were averaging 35 kids a day; today we’re well over 100,” said Kawika Mattos, Boys & Girls Club Program Director for Paukukalo Homestead during oral testimony.
The club currently uses the Paukukalo Community Center, but struggles with space constraints and facility limitations.
“Breaking down tables and chairs–that’s something that you have to do; but right now, with the amount of kids that we’re serving, we have kids sitting outside on sidewalks. It’s just like makeshift– do what we gotta do–and we’re doing as well as we are under the conditions,” said Mattos.
“This may seem simple, but adult bathrooms, not shared with kids–that’s standard in youth development–simple stuff like that. Multi-purpose rooms that we share with the community would be crucial. This is for generations to come to have a site there,” said Mattos.
The club currently serves a mix of both Hawaiian Immersion and regular Department of Education children. Aside from the Hawaiian Homes community in Paukukalo, the center also serves the outer-lying community of Waiehu Kou and Waiehu Terrace.
The Boys & Girls Club recently signed a 35 year lease agreement with the Department of Hawaiian Homelands to utilize the open gym space next to the Paukukalo Community Center that consists of two basketball hoops. “They’re just waiting for us to build it out,” said Mattos.
“We need your support to get the planning design and project management monies–$245,000 off the ground at this time,” said Mattos.
“It’s a pivotal time,” said Mattos. “As long as I’m there, my commitment to you is really to double, triple the capacity, and really serve the kids. The timing is perfect for this project now and your support would be absolutely crucial.”
Mattos’ son, Lopaka Mattos was among the club members who also testified in support of the project. Just last week, Lopaka was selected as the state representative for the Boys & Girls Club for his leadership, resilience, and demonstrated commitment to serve his family, community, and the Boys & Girls Club organization.
“I absolutely believe that becoming a club kid has given me the opportunity to take a different path in life. I learned the value of being a good person in my community. Without the opportunity, I’m sure I would be on drugs and living the life of a criminal, which is the path that my (biological) parents were taking me on,” said Lopaka, who was adopted by Mattos after spending several years in the foster care system.
“The Boys & Girls Club became my new family and has literally given me an extended family, new parents, and new healthy values. It taught me how to have stability in school; and has given me great friends,” said Lopaka.
“Through the Boys & Girls Club, my life is a normal and happy life that I always wanted, and often dreamed of when I slept in the car back when I was nine years old,” said Lopaka.
A number of other social service agencies also sought funding support during Monday’s meeting including: the Hui Malama Learning Center; Focus Maui Nui’s Youth Alliance Program; Kalima O Maui; Kansha Preschool; Best Buddies; Maui Economic Development Board’s Ka Ala Hele educational grant; MEO Youth Services Program; Boy Scouts; Ka Ipu Kukui; and the Kula Kaiapuni program for Hawaiian Immersion students in Paia.
Additional Budget Hearings are scheduled in the following locations:
- Wednesday, April 11, 2012: at 6 p.m., Lahaina Civic Center, Social Hall
- Friday, April 13, 2012: at 6 p.m., Lanai Senior Center
- Monday, April 16, 2012: at 6 p.m., Helene Social Hall in Hana
- Wednesday, April 18, 2012: at 6 p.m., Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center, Social Hall
In addition to last night’s Kahului meeting, District meetings have also already been held in Kihei, Paia, and Moloka’i.