La‘i‘Ōpua 2020 is a Kona-based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that serves as the charitable arm of Kaniohale Community Association (KCA), the Hawaiian Homeowners Association for Kaniohale subdivision built by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) within the Villages of La‘i‘Ōpua. Its purpose is to ensure the existence of adequate social infrastructure to complement and support the greater laio community.
BUILDING A NEW WAY OF LIFE
It is where neighbors meet to have a conversation, friends and family celebrate special times, and children learn about their culture and how to care for the land. It is a place that prides itself on
being inclusive—welcoming everyone, and where a diverse community can come together as one.
Designed as a pu‘uhonua (area of safety and peace) in mind, the La‘i‘Ōpua Community Center in North Kona is distinctive—meeting the vital needs of Kona Coast residents while redefining how they live, work, play, and learn. For many of those who reside here, La‘i‘Ōpua is more than the construction of a new building and center, it’s building quality of life.
A new way of life.
REVITALIZING OUR BONDS
Just as the Hawaiian land division, ahupua‘a, incorporated all of the resources needed for its people to survive hundreds of years ago, the new comprehensive multi-service community center will serve as a highly anticipated gathering place to educate, heal and connect with one another.
Enhancing the quality of life for the people on Hawai‘i Island is essential as the population in many areas continues to rise and resources become scarce. Over the last decade, the population along the North Kona Coast alone has increased 30 percent.
In addition, there are currently no large public parks in North Kona and the nearest facility is inadequate to provide the type of enrichment programs and social services that the community desperately needs. Medical services are also limited and located miles apart, forcing many residents to travel far to receive minimal quality health care.
PLANNING FOR THE PEOPLE
Located in the Villages of La‘i‘Ōpua, and within the Kealakehe ahupua‘a, north of Kailua-Kona, the La‘i‘Ōpua 2020 Community Center will feature breathtaking panoramic views from mauka (mountain) to makai (ocean). Plans include the construction of approximately 130,000 square feet of community facilities built on vacant land owned by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL), and will extend over 26.75 acres.
All are welcome here. La‘i‘Ōpua 2020, the non-profit organization that manages the center, is grateful to the Native Hawaiian community for providing the land, a precious resource, which will benefit the greater West Hawai‘i region. La‘i‘Ōpua 2020 is deeply committed to providing an inclusive setting. Therefore it was imperative for its board members to listen to the needs and concerns of West Hawai‘i prior to the planning and design phases for the La‘i‘Ōpua 2020 Community Center.
A STRONG SENSE OF VALUES
The vision for La‘i‘Ōpua 2020 is not only built on an understanding of the urgent need for a gathering place, it is formed from the cultural and spiritual values inherent in the land and people of Hawai‘i.
La‘i‘Ōpua 2020’s partners and service providers will work together to operate in a manner that is reflective of the Hawaiian values of nurturing, healing, and harmony. Designs that highlight the island’s landscape, view of the ocean, stroke of the wind and access to natural sunlight will serve to support the distinguishing features of the complex.
Caring for one another is at the foundation of every healthy, thriving community. Therefore, the center will encourage residents up and down the Kona Coast to come together to form common bonds.
Connections will be developed with the neighboring Kamana Villages, Native Hawaiian community and Kealakehe High School facilities and programs, which will extend to benefit the entire coast. Garden spaces landscaped with select plants will promote healthy diets and lifestyles, and intergenerational activities will provide opportunities for youth and elders to interact.
La‘i‘Ōpua 2020 will also be known as a place of safety and healing. All will be invited to reflect, receive help and reconnect to serve family and neighbors in this sanctuary. Programs will offer health and wellness services through both western and traditional means. The center’s design will incorporate the natural beauty of the surroundings, including the creation of walking paths that promote outdoor contemplation and rejuvenation.
POWER OF PARTNERSHIPS
La‘i‘Ōpua 2020 is partnering with several local agencies and organizations to provide an array of valuable services and programs together in one place. Once completed, the La‘i‘Ōpua Community Center will serve as a model for future projects by fostering collaboration among service providers, and improving public access to services and programs, and life-enhancing activities on the island.
Collaborating with entities that have the best interests of Kona’s families and children at heart is vital. Plans are underway for Kamehameha Schools to build a state-of-the-art preschool on two acres of land on the center’s grounds.
A 26,000 square-foot complex facility will serve as one of the anchors of the La‘i‘Ōpua Community Center. This facility will include ample space to host events and programs of all types of sizes. It will also feature fun, educational and safe alternatives for young people to socialize, such as a dance and audio/visual center, computer lab, library, multi-purpose game room and space for afterschool programs. An indoor/outdoor café will connect to the complex.
A handful of vital social service programs that are ingrained in the local community will be present at La‘i‘Ōpua. The non-profit Neighborhood Place of Kona, will offer culturally-sensitive services for at-risk families to aid in the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Child and Family Services and The Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of West Hawai‘i will provide supportive
social programs and counseling as well.
The Family Support Services of Hawai‘i will provide infant and toddler day care programs and education to existing family infant care providers in the area. The agency will also provide respite care, which will support attendance of appointments at the proposed medical and social services facilities.
Kona Adult Day Care Services will also offer assistance, respite, and education for
elders and other caregivers. West Hawai‘i residents will no longer need to travel long distances for preventive and maintenance health care. A 25,000 square-foot medical center will serve
as the other anchor for the La‘i‘Ōpua Community Center. The West Hawai‘i Community Health Center proposes to bring medical, dental, behavior health, family planning, health education, and other community level health support services to the area.
Plans for the health center include creating a health academy in partnership with Kealakehe High School, providing educational resources for residency programs and developing wellness and prevention programs utilizing gardening and promoting the hands-on preparation of healthy eating.
Another partnership with Kealakehe High School will create several exciting projects to benefit both students and the entire community. The first project will turn the existing high school playfields into regional recreational resources, while the second will create a new gymnasium. A third project planned will produce a new aquatic center with a 50-meter pool.
The heart of the center is reserved for an open hale (building or hall) with both mauka and makai views. The hale will serve as the prominent architectural feature in the complex where the community can gather for celebrations and events. An open amphitheatre will be located below the hale for hula and other performances.
A DEEPER SENSE OF COMMUNITY
Forming strong community bonds is at the core of La‘i‘Ōpua Community Center. Where there was once no central place for residents to learn, grow, nurture and heal—now there will be. You can take part in this ground-breaking project and build a way of life for generations of island residents.
By supporting La‘i‘Ōpua Community Center’s capital campaign, you can help secure better access to vital programs and services for our families living along the Kona Coast. Together, we will meet fundamental social, educational, and cultural needs for our children. Together, we all can provide a deeper sense of community in a place where everyone deserves a promising future.