In Hawaiian ola means life, but there is more, such as: health, well-being, living, livelihood, means of support, salvation; alive, living; curable, spared, recovered; healed; to live; to spare, save, heal, grant life, survive, thrive. Inspired by the deepest meaning of the word, Pūʻā Foundation works toward making a difference in the lives of families affected by trauma and incarceration.

OLA strategy / target / Goal 


OOrganize Community and Resources.           

L Learn about Trauma, How to Address it and How to Help.

A Act in Alignment – Provide Connected, Comprehensive and Consistent Support and Resources.


Native Hawaiian women represent 20% of the general population in Hawaii, but are 40% of the prison population.  The target is a 20% reduction.


To end the over-representation of Native Hawaiians incarcerated & break the generational cycle – starting with women & children. Inspiring new life!


KIDS DAYS AT THE WOMEN’S PRISON – for Mothers in prison to reconnect with their children; supporting children of incarcerated mothers & their families

As of May 2021 – no approvals have been given to allow in-person events. Similar plans to provide care packages are in the works.  In 2020 for health and safety reasons due to the cornavirus pandemic all in-person visits at the Women’s Prison have beed postponed and all Kids Days have been cancelled.  While we cannot hold the festive events that bring families together – children, their mothers and caregivers face-to-face, we can provide a little comfort and joy by sending care packages and gifts.  We came up with Malama Ohana & Keiki Makana (Care for Ohana & Gifts for the Children) and will be coordinating the care packages for the months of Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec. 2020.

AUG – Malama Ohana & Keiki Makana – To support distance learning with additional cultural healing and wellness materials provided.  Pūʻā received funding support from the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisers for the Love Heals grant by Grantmakers for Girls of Color, and State Council of Hawaiian Congregational Churches.

SEPT – “Sun Light, Sun Bright in a Bag”Partnering w/Catholic Diocese of Honolulu, Prison Ministry, Office for Social Ministry (OSM), various parishes, the Marianist Lay Community & OGH.  Funding support provided by OSM.

OCT – Malama Ohana & Keiki Makana – Halloween Theme.  

NOV – Malama Ohana & Keiki Makana – Makahiki – Thanksgiving Theme.  

DEC – “With Love from Star Light Star BrightPartnering w/Catholic Diocese of Honolulu, Prison Ministry, Office for Social Ministry (OSM), various parishes, the Marianist Lay Community & OGH.  Funding support provided through donations to Catholic Diocese.


More about – Sunlight Sun Bright – Kids day at WCCC during the summer, and Starlight Star Bright – Kids day at WCCC during the winter.  In service with the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu, Office for Social Ministry and Prison Ministry, and working with the Women’s Community Correctional Center (WCCC) two special events are held with volunteers providing activities for children, their moms and caregivers. A festive setting for food, fellowship, fun and family engagement is created involving families from all islands as approved by WCCC.  This is part of the community organizing work of the Pūʻā Foundation.

See links & articles below:

Starlight Star Bright – Midweek article 1/29/20, “Good Neighbor”:

Starlight Star Bright – Dec. 2019

Starlight Star Bright – Dec. 2019, “Hugs and kisses” – Hawaii Catholic Herald

Sunlight Sun Bright – KITV news coverage July 2019

Sunlight Sun Bright – Catholic Herald Story – Aug 2019

Sunlight Sun Bright – Catholic Herald Story – July 2019

Starlight Star Bright – Dec. 2017

SUPPORTING WOMEN IN PRISON – Courses, events and activities

Pre-Transition CourseA 12 week curriculum focused on life success planning for women about to exit prison and connecting resources to actual needs.  Pūʻā began the course at WCCC in May 2014 and at the Federal Detention Center in January 2016. The curriculum and coursework has been approved and accepted by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Resource FairIn partnership with WCCC and community partners, Pūʻā organizes the event to give the women of WCCC the opportunity to connect with community resources that can support them upon release from prison. The first resource fair was held in 2016.

Cultural Healing and Well Being CourseA 12-week curriculum focused on sharing Native Hawaiian culture and history.  Pūʻā Foundation’s community educational resources are used in the class –  Ua Mea Ke Ea Textbook and DVD.  As part of the class and working with other courses at WCCC, the Foundation has been sponsoring the Hoʻike Huliʻau event – Hōʻike means – to show, exhibit and Huliau means – turning point, time of change. This is an annual event that highlights transformation through women sharing their personal stories from the various courses or activities they have participated in at WCCC. There is a showcase of talents of dance, singing, music and storytelling. Pūʻā Foundation organizes a community gathering and provides dinner before the main event.  The first year Hōiʻke Huliau was presented was 2013.



Mercy HouseIs a tangible resource and a collaborative movement providing transitional housing and support for women exiting prison and re-entering the community. Pūʻā Foundation, the Catholic Diocese, parishes, community organizations, WCCC and Hawaii Paroling Authority have collaborated to establish the Mercy House. The first resident was accepted December 2016.  See more about the Mercy House – video link below:

Mercy House Video

Peer Support Specialist Certification ProgramConnected to the Mercy House is the PEER SUPPORT SPECIALIST CERTIFICATION PROGRAM.  See more below – the Dec. 2019 Cohort #1 Peer Support Specialist Training – Graduation Ceremony Photo & midweek article.  As of May 2021 – six members of Cohort #1 have completed all requirements by the Dept. of Health for full certification, and four completed advanced Forensic Peer Support Training and Peer Support Supervisory Training.

HI Peer Support IMUA

Hawaii Peer Support 2020


Reentry Partnership Collaborative – Connected to Mercy House and other housing providers, partnering efforts to provide peer support services.  In development is Case Management and Therapeutic Services resulting in – HOUSING & PEER SUPPORT CONNECTION, WITH OTHER SUPPORT SERVICES.


Housing, Peer Support Connection with Case Management & Therapy


(from prison)


(6 to 12 months)


(24 months)



Pre-Transition Course

Housing Partners

Mercy House

Felon Friendly Landlords; Kupuna Housing




Waimanalo Community Farming Project – The Waimanalo Community Farming Project (WCFP) has a theme, “Malama Aina a me Malama Kanaka” (Care for the land and it will take care of you). The WCFP incorporates ahupuaʻa land management approaches, Native Hawaiian traditional and cultural practices and farming best practices. WCFP objectives include: Working Together (Kākou), Healing, Health and Wellness (Olakino Maikaʻi) and Service (Kōkua). Support is provided for women in prison and those reentering community through ʻaina based healing experiences and vocational skill building. The WCFP is set on 8 acres of land and the produce grown is to be shared with the community homeless and hunger outreach. Women on the workline from WCCC have been participating since 2017. There was limited access in 2020 due to the pandemic. In 2021 things are getting better. Seeds of love are being planted at the farm, and hands come together to malama  aina.


community organizing – supporting women re-entering community

OGH – Oahu Going Home ConsortiumAn initiative of volunteers from public, private, and faith-based organizations with the mission to: “assist women released from prison transition into community life through employment, training, housing and appropriate supportive services”. Pūʻā Foundation coordinates and facilitates OGH meetings and activities as a part of the Foundation’s community organizing and strategic efforts to connect identified resources to identified needs.  


community educational resources – understanding hawaii’s history and historical trauma 

Ua Mau Ke EaThe Ua Mau Ke Ea (UMKE) Collection, a textbook, the historical documentary and a theatrical film version, developed by the Foundation in 2011, are community educational resources on the political and legal history of the Hawaiian Islands. UMKE helps with the understanding of historical traumatic events and its long-term effects on individuals and society. UMKE chronicles Hawaii’s history through storytelling, interviews, archival images and Hawaiian-language newspaper articles. It takes the reader and viewer on a journey from 18th century Hawaii under the rule of King Kamehameha I, through the 19th century of the Hawaiian Kingdom to present day Hawaii. The materials are used at WCCC in the Cultural Healing and Well-being course.


See link, “Transcribing Means Healing – transcriptions of Hawaiian Newspapers at WCCC (former project) and Ua Mau Ke Ea/Ike Kuʻokoʻa.  Ua Mau Ke Ea continues with materials used in the Cultural Healing and Well-being course at WCCC.