Patty Kahanamoku Teruya ends each e-mail with a quote from her great-uncle Duke: “In Hawaii, we greet friends, loved ones and strangers with aloha, which means with love. Aloha is the key word to the universal spirit of real hospitality, which makes Hawaii renowned as the world’s center of understanding and fellowship. Try meeting or leaving people with aloha. You’ll be surprised by their reaction. I believe in it, and it is my creed.”
Teruya certainly shares her famous relative’s spirit of generosity. Since 2002, she has secured vocational training and employment for hundreds of Native Hawaiian students through the Waimanalo Construction Coalition. As secretary/treasurer for the coalition, she additionally obtains grants for classes, ensures all applications are processed in a timely manner, and has made it her personal mission to assist all students in overcoming adversity and other obstacles so that no one is left behind.
For her years of service, the special events coordinator for the City and County’s Customer Services Department was honored last month by City Coucilman Ikaika Anderson (pictured with Teruya above).
“They (Waimanalo residents) deserved all these programs in their community,” explains Teruya, who was born and raised in Kalihi before settling in Nanakuli after attending high school and college in San Diego. “I was just the introducer - just motivating them and having the people in Waimanalo step up to the plate and get involved and deliver positive programs in their community.”
One such program the current chairwoman of the Nanakuli-Maili Neighborhood Board has introduced to the Windward side is the 25-year-old Live and Let Live campaign, which stresses that drinking and driving does not belong on community streets and highways. She also has spearheaded many community events, including Sunset on the Beach at Waimanalo Beach Park, Re-Discover the Waimanalo Country Fair, the community’s annual Christmas parade and numerous cleanup projects.
“Serving is important, and it should come from your heart,” Teruya says, “and because this (outreach) felt so good, in the years it came where I just had a vision of helping other communities, and till today this is what I do - I share my talents and gifts in making a difference and to kokua what I can.”
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