Last May, Leinani Woods turned to Alu Like, Inc., for assistance as she pursues a career as a registered nurse.

Having done her research first, Woods arrived at Alu Like with a short-term goal of becoming a certified nursing assistant, and a longer-term plan to earn a degree practical nursing, said Alu Like Program Specialist Hi‘ilei Magallanes. Six months after Magallanes met her, Wood graduated from Kapi‘olani Community College’s long-term care nursing program and became active on the Hawai‘i State Nurse Aide Registry.

“Leinani Woods is now an employee at The Plaza at Moanalua,” Magallanes said. “Leinani works as a resident care aide where she provides daily health care needs according to each individual resident care plan.” Woods also plans to apply to KCC’s Practical Nursing Program.

Alu Like helped prepare Leinani Woods for a job as a resident care aide. – Photo: Courtesy Alu Like

Woods’ example is just one way Alu Like’s Ho‘omānea ‘ōiwi program helps Native Hawaiians enhance their job skills, become more competitive in the workforce and achieve economic self-sufficiency.

With programs aimed at both youth and adults, Alu Like’s employment programs focus on helping Native Hawaiian, Native American Indian and Alaska Native individuals, as well as strengthening the communities they live in. Alu Like has offices on O‘ahu, Hawai‘i Island, Kaua‘i, Maui and Moloka‘i. Eligibility is based on income, employment status and other criteria.

To celebrate the success of its participants and to raise awareness of Alu Like’s programs, staff members shared stories about participants who made them proud.

For example, Desiree Lui, 39, is a recovering drug addict who struggled with substance abuse from age 15, leading to incarceration and in-patient treatment. After three years of sobriety, Lui’s focus turned to getting her four children back from child protective services. “Time waits for no one and her children were growing much too fast,” said Ronelle Hulama, a program specialist at Alu Like.

According to Hulama, Lui enrolled at Honolulu Community College in 2016 with financial assistance from Alu Like and other sources. Working part-time on top of her full-time course load, Lui maintained a 4.0 grade point average, appearing on the dean’s list as she worked toward a degree in human services, with a certificate of completion in substance abuse counseling.

Kyale Bohol
Desiree Lui

“This may not sound like much, but for Desiree, that is a big accomplishment for her. I couldn’t be more proud,” said Hulama, wishing Lui continued success. “For those who are familiar with the drug world, there is no one that can help you but yourself. Continued success to Desiree as her recovery is an ongoing struggle and work in progress.”

Hilo High 10th-grader Kyale Bohol took advantage of Alu Like’s work experience program for youth. “After completing Book Two of Ka La Hiki Ola, a Native Hawaiian cultural-based job-readiness/employment preparation curriculum, Kyale began her work experience placement at Jumpstart Preschool as a teacher’s aide,” said Alu Like Program Specialist Shauna Ige.

Bohol works two hours after school each weekday. “Kyale really enjoys working at Jumpstart Preschool just as much as the school enjoys having her,” Ige said.

For more information about Alu Like’s programs, visit, call (808) 585-6700 or email