Using Culturally Appropriate Family-Focused Practices to Engage the Community

Objective: To engage the community by using cultural practices to welcoming children into the community and supporting families

Description: Hale Na’au Pono believes that all outreach activities must meet a need defined by the community and it must engage the community at all levels of implementation. The concept of Ohana, or family, is at the heart of Hawaiian culture. Ka Wahi Kaiaulu, a Wai’anae Neighborhood Place program, is based on the belief that a healthy family is essential to raising healthy keiki, or children. It is designed to build a nurturing and stable community for all keikii to “safely live the best lives possible~ culturally, spiritually, academically and economically.” One of the most creative efforts to engage the community is their “Baby Shower” program which celebrates the birth of each child and brings it into the larger Ohana or community.

The Baby Shower project wraps a supportive arm around the family and provides much needed supplies for a newborn baby such as food, furniture, clothing, diapers and other necessities. By providing much needed resources, this program helps support expecting families since the majority of families in Wai’anae face economic challenge. The community ensures that each baby is welcomed and each family is supported. This type of support continues far beyond the birth of the child as the community is now invested in watching each child grow and take its place in the Ohana. This type of program makes it a natural place to for community members to talk about the importance of getting support, including health insurance to ensure they can take care of the family’s health needs.

Population of Focus: Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, Adults, Children

Setting: Mental health clinic

Level of Intervention: Individual, Family, Community

Background: Hale Na’au Pono was incorporated in 1986 to meet the needs of the local community with a focus on mental health and wellness. The name Hale Na`au Pono, is Hawaiian and can be translated as “The House of Inner Balance” which exemplifies their philosophy to incorporate cultural values in all their services. Wai’anae has a population of approximately 50,000 with the majority being native Hawaiian. Other major ethnic groups include Caucasian, Filipino, Samoan, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Puerto Rican, and Vietnamese. Approximately half the population is under 20 years old.

The mission of of Hale Na’au Pono is to Support Humane and Resilient Communities through Behavioral Health, Advocacy, Education and other Human Services Competent in Addressing the Diversity of Cultural and Social Patterns in Individuals, Families and Communities and Incorporate Community Members of the Wai’anae Coast in Governance, Service Delivery and Evaluation.

The agency offers a wide array of community based services including case management, clubhouse for individuals with serious mental health problems, marriage and family counseling, Access to Recovery for individuals with substance use problems, integrated health services, psychiatric and psychological support, housing, mediation, anger management training, programs for youth and Ka Wahi Kaiaulu – Wai’anae Neighborhood Place that provides support to families.


Poka Laenui
Executive Director
Wai`anae Coast Community Mental Health Center
86-226 Farrington Hwy., Wai`anae, HI 96792