GEORGETTE STEVENSMy focus has always been to enrich the lives of our community’s keiki. Our job is to challenge them to live their best lives and support them as they work to seize it.” Born and raised in Wai’anae, and hānai by her tutu wahine, Edna Stevens, Georgette was taught to be selfless and giving towards others. I mahalo piha my tutu wahine for her love and aloha. She blessed me with her mana’o; opportunities to learn through hula, encouraged my participation in the Hawaiian-based Wai`anae Protestant Church, and in the Wai`anae Hawaiian Civic Club. My tutu taught me, through modeling, to give and care for others. Many people thought the saying back when I was a child, “you should be seen and not heard” meant that children didn’t have a voice, but it really meant, that to live well meant to practice by doing, rather than talking about doing.

Even in high school, I knew the answer to our community’s problems was servitude–to give back. I have taken that practice into my adulthood, having served in multiple initiatives to better our communities. One of my most favorite projects was the restoration of Ku`ilioloa Heiau at Poka`i Bay, led by the Wai`anae Hawaiian Civic Club. They had faith in me to help write the grant. I learned more about my home of Wai’anae and the rich history and heritage that belongs to us all. Wai’anae is beautiful because of its striking sunsets, pristine beaches, and majestic mountain ranges, but especially because of the people whose hearts were so loving and kind. It’s sad though, that even with this quality, we still have faced so many ills.

For 30 years, I lived in Kapolei, as I’ve always expected Kapolei to provide our keiki with extended opportunities–a beacon of hope for expansion and development on multiple fronts. Ko Olina employs 3,000. Campbell Industrial Park employs 7,000. DR Horton’s Ho`opili residential community, Ka Makana Ali`i shopping mall, UH West O`ahu, and HART’s rail project plus Transit Oriented Development (TOD) are helping to increase the 40,000 jobs in Kapolei to more than 103,000 by 2035 ( Kapolei.com). For the three years since I moved back to Wai`anae, Nānākuli to be exact, I’ve been thankful for the blossoming of Searider Productions, Ma`o Farms, Wai`anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, and the Ka Pua Initiative. They are incredible–advancements for which to be proud. However, what remains constant is the rise in drug abuse, and domestic violence. I personally know the ‘ohana of 2 of the 4 teen suicides, over the past 6 months. I was deeply saddened to hear that Wai`anae High School recently garnered the title of number one school with the highest rates of drug offenses on campus. (http://khon2.com/2015/11/16/hawaii-receives-13-million-to-fight-rampant-drug-problem-in-schools/) Kapolei was number 4. We must put our minds together, and find solutions. I know that no one person can do it alone – that it takes the community; the entire village. My concern for our people is that we don’t always seem to be moving, together, in a pono direction. Lilo and Stitch said `ohana means no one gets left behind. At that time, you heard everyone say it, but the truth is, too many are being left behind. I will work tirelessly with others to make my beloved home pono, and I invite anyone to join me. I’d love to collaborate to get new initiatives started.”

Georgette has two beautiful children, Ikaika, 26 years, and Ke’ala 13. Ke’ala attends Ka Waihona O Ka Na`au`ao Public Charter School. “My children have helped me to learn patience and to be more loving.” Georgette wanted to share a few last thoughts. “To all the kupuna from Wai`anae and Kapolei, much aloha for your wisdom. To all those who have worked alongside to lift up our community, you are my inspiration. To all our keiki, kokua others. Most importantly, mahalo ke Akua, He is the one and only true role model.” My kahea (call to action) is that anyone interested in working together to help our keiki be pono, please reach out. Georgette.stevens@gmail.com.