Birthday Presence: Community Kuleana at Kamaile Academy

Meeting a 5-year old houseless girl led Emily Corpuz, a senior at Kamaile Academy in Wai‘anae, to found a non-profit organization to throw community birthday parties for houseless youth who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

People from Wai‘anae often face negative stereotypes, but when you look deeper, you find a strong and beautiful community staunchly dedicated to family and fiercely supportive of each other.

Kamaile Academy uses its core Hawaiian values such as ha‘aheo (pride), laulima (cooperation), hō‘ihi (respect), na‘auao (enlightenment) and kuleana (responsibility) to prepare its students for college, but they also focus on demonstrating the strength of ʻohana and community. Emily’s story is touching, but also just one of many coming from Kamaile, where success comes from carrying your kuleana to the community.

“I just wanted it to expand and see what the community could give back to other people who don’t have as much.”

Emily Corpuz, former student & current staff, Kamaile Academy