Promoting The Inclusion Of All

By Sandra Yoro
Wednesday - May 19, 2010 Share

By Sandra Yoro, Executive Director
Special Education Center of Hawaii

The Special Education Center of Hawaii was founded in 1965 as a school for children with special needs and incorporated in 1968 by Sister Agnes Jerome Murphy, S.N.D.

In the early 1990s, SECOH embarked on a journey to decentralize its very large, hidden and segregated day care operations at the former Waimano Training School and Hospital facility. The organization has since evolved from a single school into a human-service agency providing a broad range of home- and community-based services for not only people with disabilities, but for our growing elderly population.

As a private, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) agency, SECOH operates five community centers for those with special needs and the elderly in Kalihi, Pearl City, Waipahu, Ewa Beach and Wahiawa.

Our day care services include door-to-door transportation to and from our centers, as well as incidental transportations (i.e., to the mall, park, etc.). In addition to partnering with Handi-Van and Vanpool Hawaii, we have a small fleet of privately owned, wheel-chair-accessible vehicles. There are no fees associated with this service.

Sandra Yoro (center) with SECOH clients (from left) Verna Garcia, Bev Garcia, Janet Linkee and Vaipapa Soliai

People do not realize that our community centers are major contributors to the communities in which they operate. We pay fair-market rent values at the majority of our centers; purchase 125-150 meals per day from local restaurants and markets; shop for activity supplies on a daily basis, and frequent movies theaters, bowling alleys and other recreational attractions every day.

We also feel it is important to give back to those even less fortunate than our clientele. We encourage our day care customers to volunteer at churches, nursing homes, homeless shelters and food banks.

We currently have a wait list at most of our community day care centers. We are very particular when it comes to site selection. We don’t want to be hidden away in somebody else’s basement or backyard, even if it is rent-free.

Through a very generous award from the May Templeton Hopper Fund through the Hawaii Community Foundation, SECOH is able to provide day care tuition assistance to folks 65 years and older who demonstrate financial need. We are so fortunate during this soft economy to actually be able to provide this type of assistance to needy families. To obtain an application, contact Crystal (739-2745), Tenney (734-0233, ext. 310) or Cynthia (488-8884).

For further information, visit our Web site:

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