What’s New At The YMCA

By Anthony Pfaltzgraff
Wednesday - April 26, 2006
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Kalihi YMCA staffers (from left): Renee Guillermo, Micah Topolinski, Tony Pfaltzgraff, Erin Berhman and Stacey Utu
Kalihi YMCA staffers (from left): Renee Guillermo,
Micah Topolinski, Tony Pfaltzgraff, Erin Berhman
and Stacey Utu

As I write this, I am still on a “high” from the recent 60th anniversary and grand opening celebration of our new Kalihi YMCA facilities on Thursday, April 14. Well over 300 supporters attended the celebration, including a very distinguished panel of speakers who graced the program sharing their words of wisdom, senses of humor and personal experiences with the YMCA. Among the dignitaries were U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, U.S. Rep. Ed Case, Gov. Linda Lingle, Mayor Mufi Hannemann, state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, and City Councilman Romy Cachola. Also on hand were Alan Oshima our YMCA chairman, board of directors, and two very important people leading our YMCA Capital Campaign, Lynn and Jeff Watanabe. We were all extremely honored to have such an elite attendance at our humble Kalihi YMCA, but this was a strong testament to the important role the YMCA organization plays in our society.

A foundation of the Kalihi - and O’ahu - community since 1946, the Kalihi YMCA is now housed in a brand-new, four-story, 23,000-square-foot building, funded by the “Reaching for Tomorrow” Capital Campaign. In 2002, the YMCA of Honolulu Board of Directors adopted this bold new vision for the future to ensure that the services of the YMCA be accessible to all families in the state. The newly completed Kalihi YMCA is the first completed phase of this commitment to improve YMCA facilities statewide.

The new facility of the Kalihi YMCA includes a fitness center, computer center, multi-purpose room, and lots of meeting space. The larger building enables our staff to expand the range of programs and increase the amount of youths we serve. Although “new and improved,” we remain committed to our core programs: reconnecting teens with families and schools, creating safe after-school activities, and preventing substance abuse, school drop-out and gang activity.

As a matter of fact, the Kalihi YMCA is the largest provider of community-based programs to “at risk” teens in the state, and runs programs not only in the Kalihi area, but throughout the island of Oahu. Since 1962, Kalihi YMCA programs have been helping teens with substance abuse, legal and family problems, as well as providing safe, interactive, stimulating after-school youth programs. Some of these are:

* School’s Out Teen Drop-In Program offering young people a positive, safe place to “hang out” from the time school is over until early evening - when they are most at risk in engage in negative behaviors.

* Outreach Services provide mentoring, intervention and prevention - in more than 10 major communities on the island of Oahu. They also help teens with substance abuse, legal and family problems - currently providing substance-abuse treatment services for 14 high schools on Oahu.

* Youth Mentoring Research Project for youth and families in the Kalihi Community.

* “Rural Youth Crime Prevention Program” targets middle school youths specifically to reduce youth crimes in the areas of Waianae, Waialua, Wahiawa and Waipahu.

We have a highly skilled and compassionate staff. We can only continue to do this important work with community support. Our biggest fundraiser, the 19th Annual Kalihi YMCA Golf Tournament, is coming up on May 17 at the Pearl Country Club. We are very fortunate to have Victor Kimura as our honorary chair this year. Kimura has taken the tournament to a whole new level with his hands-on leadership style. He has brought Starwood Hotels & Resorts/Kyo-ya Co. Ltd. on board as the first title sponsor for the tournament in its history. He has also created corporate sponsorship levels (Kalihi Uka-$5,000; Kalihi Waena-$3,000; and Kalihi Kai$1,500) and attractive incentives to achieve much higher goals for the tournament than ever before. We hope companies out there will support the Kalihi YMCA on this fun day - and individual players are also welcome at $150! Call 848-2494.

Next Week: George Benda, Chairman and CEO of Chelsea Group

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