Last Thursday, the Waimanalo rain let up and the sun broke through the clouds, casting a warm glow on a long-awaited special occasion. Pua Akiyoshi‘s home dedication marked the culmination of months of hard work, dedication and patience.
Pua’s 2-bed, 2-bath house is Habitat’s 91st home, and was part of Habitat’s 3rd annual Wahine Build initiative on Oahu.
The dedication ceremony was an evening filled with joy, celebration, and a profound sense of accomplishment. Surrounded by family, friends, and the Wahine Build volunteers who helped bring her dream to life, Pua received the keys to her new home.
The ceremony began with a traditional oli aloha, or Hawaiian chant, performed by students from Hui Malama O Ke Kai.
This past summer, several girls from the Waimanalo-based charter school participated in Wahine Build youth workshops where they constructed chicken coops and community free little libraries – one of which found its permanent place in Pua’s front yard, a lasting reminder of the impact of their hard work.
Throughout the ceremony, a resounding theme of patience and growth echoed.
“A mentor once told me to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Reflected Mike Kailio, construction superintendent. “Meaning, if you’re comfortable where you are, you’re never going to grow. So when I was told this home would be built by all women volunteers, I embraced it. I’ve learned to appreciate the dedication and detail-oriented qualities women bring to the build site, and I can say with confidence that out of the 5 Habitat homes I’ve helped construct, this is of the highest quality yet.”
Rebecca Wright, Honolulu Habitat Board Director and 2024 Wahine Build vice chair, presented pua with a special gift from the volunteers – 2 hard hats signed by every individual who played a role in the construction.
“I can speak for every one of the volunteers when I say that we are incredibly grateful to be a part of your journey – it means so much to us.”
Before Pua was handed the keys, a heartwarming blessing from her sister, Kahu Lani Kapuniai, echoed Pua’s desire for the home to be a gathering place. “I’m so grateful Pua feels this way, because it’s the same thing that God tells us – all are welcome. I hope the Lord will have favor in this home and in all the hearts gathered here, and that we would continue to serve for the love of God and the love of one another.”
This is no longer a Habitat house; this is Pua Akiyoshi’s home.
As Pua stood on the threshold of her new home, surrounded by her sisters and the community that made it possible, she expressed profound gratitude. “You didn’t do it just to get it done, you did it with care, quality, and love. To the volunteers – you learned new skills. To the leaders – you had so much patience with each new crew. You didn’t give up. And so I thank you so much for doing that.”
Finally, in a joyous exchange of keys and a heartfelt hug between Pua and CEO TJ Joseph, the proclamation was made, “This is no longer a Habitat house; This is Pua Akiyoshi’s home!” And so, Pua’s legacy begins.
Consider making a gift to Honolulu Habitat to ensure our critical work can continue. Let’s build more than houses; let’s build homes filled with love, care, and a shared commitment to creating brighter futures. Together, we can make a difference, one home at a time.