This month, Honolulu Habitat for Humanity commemorated the completion of not one, not two, but three homes in Waimanalo and Papakolea.
Home Dedication Ceremonies were held on August 4, August 11 and August 12.
“A Habitat Home Dedication is a celebration held at the conclusion of every home we build,” said TJ Joseph, acting CEO, “but this is the first time we’ve had three in one month.”
It’s a moment that marks the start of a new life and legacy for future generations – all in a home that they built with their own hands.
But these houses represent more than just the efforts of homeowners. Throughout the project duration, hundreds of community volunteers worked side-by-side with Habitat families to raise the walls of their future homes. On average, it takes 300 – 400 volunteers to construct a Habitat house.
It takes all of us. This is what it’s all about. It’s a collective collaboration of all of the people here, it is a culmination of all the good things that can be done in our community.
Esther Kiaʻāina, City Councilmember
Decades in the making: the Young family
Each dedication ceremony is a culmination of months, sometimes years, of hard work and perseverance. For some – like the Young family – it’s a moment that was decades in the making.
Lloyd and Enid Young had waited since 1971 on the list for Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. Their prayers were answered in 2019 when they were awarded a lot in the Kakaaina subdivision in Waimanalo. In October 2021, we broke ground on site of their future home and immediately began building. Enid and Lloyd will share the 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom home with their grandchildren, Maddie and Logan.
For 40 years, Enid and Lloyd served as resident caretakers of St. John’s by-the-sea Episcopal Church. “It’s been a big responsibility for a long time,” said Teri Mercurio, their eldest daughter, “and now that they are in their 70s, this house will give them a new way of life.”
But Lloyd, a US Navy Veteran who served four years on the USS Radford, says the house isn’t about him – it’s a family legacy. “This is for my grandchildren,” he said on Friday, “it’s about them now.”
This 3D home tour was made possible by Habitat volunteer Habitat volunteer Makena Rockstroh.
Community centered: the Kapuakela family
For Barbara Kapuakela, nothing is more important than family and community. Born on her family’s ancestral land in Waimanalo, she is the youngest of 21 siblings and has spent her life taking care of her family. First for her diabetic mother, and now for her aging siblings Doreen, Abraham and Thomas, who have been living in their family’s generational home for decades.
While filled with memories of their childhood, their house was slowly deteriorating around them.
Steep front stairs and narrow halls restricted mobility for Doreen and Thomas, both of whom rely on a wheelchair to get around. The decades-old roof threatened to cave in. A wooden wheelchair ramp, installed years earlier, had decayed and was unsafe for use.
Now, her new ADA compliant four-bedroom Habitat home represents safety and freedom. Fully accessible features, such as ground level ramps, accessible shower stalls and wide doorways, will change everything for the Kapuakela family.
“Our day-to-day life will be so much easier,” said Barb, “I can keep my family safe and healthy here.”
But the best part, she says, is being able to stay in her home community of Waimanalo, close to family and friends. The strength and support of her community was evident on the morning of the home dedication. Passing cars slowed as drivers shouted their congratulations to the Kapuakela family. Another neighbor delivered housewarming gifts of farm-fresh starfruit and mango.
“It’s a blessing, for myself and all our siblings. Thank you so much.” Barb said wiping back tears, “That’s all I can say, but it comes from the heart.”
Building a legacy: the Kalaluhi family
A home dedication is a celebration not only of each family’s unique journey to homeownership, but of the foundation they are laying for future generations. For Elaine and Randall Kalaluhi, this was always the goal: to build a home, a gathering place, big enough for their entire family to share for years to come.
Today, four generations of the Kalaluhi family are finally together again under the same roof.
For the past year, Elaine, Randall, and their children have spent every Saturday working alongside volunteers to raise the walls of their future home in Papakolea. The two-story, 6-bedroom house took 14 months to complete. In that time, nearly 500 volunteers gave more than 3,600 hours to help the Kalaluhi’s achieve the dream of homeownership.
On August 4, surrounded by those they love most, Elaine and Randall received the keys to their new home.
For the Kalaluhi ohana, this multi-generational house is a new sanctuary and hub for family and friends. It’s where graduations, birthdays and milestones will be celebrated. “My grandchildren are already lining up to reserve the house for their big days,” laughed Elaine, days before the dedication.
In a few weeks, they will celebrate her grandson’s 4th birthday – the first of many joyful occasions to take place in their Habitat home.
The momentum is growing
These four home dedications come in the midst of Honolulu Habitat’s 5-year strategic plan, launched earlier this year, which commits us to build 40 more homes in the next 5 years.
There are currently 18 homes in the queue to be constructed, two of which are expected to begin this fall.
The momentum is growing, but we can’t do it alone. Make a donation or volunteer today to help more families discover the strength, stability, and self-reliance that comes with owning a decent and affordable home.