Aloha kākou! This month, we would like to share a condensed version of an article in Ke Ola magazine in March-April 2013 written by Gayle “Kaleilehua” Greco. The article shared pieces of the life of Bo Kahui. He is the Executive Director of La‘i ‘Ōpua 2020. The article was titled “Ko Bo Kahui Ho‘oilina Ola.”
“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try,” said John F. Kennedy in his 1961 inaugural address. Craig ‘Bo’ Kahui was seven years old at the time and living in Kalihi on O‘ahu. It was here Bo saw the affects of not having community resources to support the people. Bo’s watchful eye and heavy heart witnessed the strain that enveloped his family as they succumbed to the societal pressure.
In 1972, he enlisted in the Navy, and it was there Bo saw the possibilities of life. He experienced the diversity only world travel can show you, the lives and cultures of many different countries – the positive aspects and the difficulties.
When Bo returned to Kalihi in 1975, he had come full circle, leaving as a young man and returning as a more seasoned adult. In reacquainting himself with the community, Bo met up with a friend who lived in Mililani, a town 18 miles north of Kalihi. Mililani is a community with all the amenities for their residents. It was here Bo realized what he had been sensing and observing throughout his military tour and in life – other people had support systems, the children had recreational resources, and the adults had convenient services.
Bo’s life changed as he helped efforts to win back the island of Kaho‘olawe and revitalize Kānewai stream in Mānoa. He felt that helping his people and his community was his calling in life. In 1998, Bo and his family moved from Hilo to Kailua-Kona where he acquired property in the Villages of La‘i ‘Ōpua, native Hawaiian homelands in North Kona. Bo and five other families joined the DHHL self-help project and worked together to build each other’s houses. Proud and forthright, Bo had brought his family home to where they could live, go to school, and have their jobs. There were 225 homes in this development with a future projection of another 1000 units to be built. He looked at the plans, and realized that there was not a community infrastructure in place, and his past flashed before him as if in a déjà vu dream. Something needed to change.
In about 2002, La‘i ‘Ōpua had a small community services room that allowed some of the residents to use the area for meetings, hālau gatherings, and recreation. It just wasn’t big enough. Bo set out to assist in the incorporation of a nonprofit organization to plan for the growth in his neighborhood community. After being awarded State and Federal nonprofit status, Bo, as President of Kaniohale Community Association (KCA), applied for and won a $125,000 grant for the vision of La‘i ‘Ōpua.
Bo could see the vision of La‘i ‘Ōpua come to life as he had meetings with community and political groups. He also understood that it would take a full-time effort to bring the project to fruition. Today, Bo is the Executive Director of La‘i ‘Ōpua 2020 (L2020). The project is moving forward. In its full build out, L2020 expects to have a Community Center, medical clinic, preschool, social service center, intergeneration daycare facility, abuse shelter, community gymnasium, aquatic center and amphitheatre.