Enriching The Lives Of Keiki And Kupuna

By Nadine Nishioka, executive director, Moiliili Community Center

A 6-year-old girl, one of thousands like her who have passed through the doors of the Moiliili Community Center Japanese Language School since its founding in the late 1800s, bows slowly and deeply. Her words flow effortlessly, as she has been practicing them every afternoon with formality and stylized grace.


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Tamayo Nakamura, 101 years old, enjoys the Moiliili Community Center with Dustin Phouthavong, 6 years old. | Moiliili Community Center photo

The school, now one of several core services offered by Moiliili Community Center, teaches these critical language skills to Oahu youths, helping them reconnect with their culture or learn about a new one. It was a core mission of the school’s founders, who in 1920 successfully fought to keep it and 162 other Hawaii schools from falling under government rule. Afterward, the school flourished, and today it is a full-fledged community center.

Moiliili Community Center is a private, nonprofit agency providing the residents of Moiliili and surrounding communities with support, services and programs to enhance individual, family and community life. The center serves more than 300 members and program participants ages 5 to 101 each day.

The center includes a Children and Families Program that provides early-morning, afterschool and holiday-break programs for elementary-age youths. Its Senior Center offers daily classes ranging from mah-jongg and ukulele lessons to line dancing, exercises and Japanese doll making. The center’s Kupuna Support Program offers services to help kupuna in their 80s and 90s stay active, happy and healthy; and its “Hidden Treasures” on-site thrift store is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In addition, the center serves as a Lanakila Meals on Wheels site, where seniors can drop in for a hot lunch and enjoy the company of others.

Like other nonprofit organizations, the Moiliili Community Center faces challenges in recruiting volunteers and raising funds for our services, including things like providing free door-to-door transportation for kupuna and bus service for program excursions. In addition to participation in our annual fundraising dinner and silent auction each May, we welcome monetary donations, as well as donations of goods, services and volunteer assistance to keep the center growing.

For more, visit moiliilicc.org, call 955-1555 or email office@moiliilicc.org.