Na Makamae: Mike, Ke Kama Pono

Ke Kama Pono - (Fri) August 30, 2019

Mike Emperado walks around a loʻi patch supervising and helping the current Ke Kama Pono group

Mike Emperado is a Direct Care Counselor with Ke Kama Pono. For the last two years he's been part of a close-knit team that works at our Safe House for adjudicated youth.

"We all treat each other like brothers and sisters," Mike says of the Ke Kama Pono team. "The kids are like my kids. I don't look at them as 'you're here because you need to be here', I look at it as this is the time for you to change. You guys are like my kids, and I'm going to treat you like you're my kids."

Though not as well-known as our Tūtū and Me Traveling Preschool or Hui Hoʻomalu foster care licensing program, Ke Kama Pono has impacted the lives of hundreds of young men and their families.

Since its inception, Ke Kama Pono has served over 200 at-risk male juveniles through its Safe House. The program accepts up to 12 youth ages 13 to 17 at a time. Its purpose is to support the integration of critical life skills necessary for the youths' long-term success and re-entry into society.

Mike believes that the Safe House provides a unique opportunity for those who haven't made the right choices in life. He talks about his own life, and says he "never made the right choices, either," and probably went through some of the same things the Safe House youth are going through now.

"To me, Ke Kama Pono is about making the right decisions... It's a new beginning from the time you come in to the time you leave, you're working on a new beginning."

Na Makamae Mike Emperado on site at our Kupa ʻAina farm

Mike Emperado's passion to give back was evident from the first time he met Mike Kahue, Ke Kama Pono's Program Manager. Mike E. was so dedicated to want to work with Ke Kama Pono that he went out and committed himself to earning his GED -- a prerequisite for working at the Safe House.

He came back with his GED sometime later, and Kahue hired him on the spot. Since then, he has continually impressed Mike and his peers with his dedication and his passion about what he does.

"At any given time, he just loves on the boys," says Kahue. "Whether they're in good spirits or bad spirits, Mike always goes the extra mile to cheer them up all the time and put the boys in a good mood."

Darlene Rin calls Mike a good partner, saying he's been her partner as a fellow Direct Care Counselor from day one. She explains how he helps the boys with their chores and ensures their work gets done, but also how Mike's humor is good for everyone.

"He makes things happy in the house," she says. She describes how Mike can feel when there is tension between the boys and that when this happens, Mike takes them on the side and calms them down. "He can feel the tensions going on between the boys. He takes them on the side and calms them down." Mike would say that's just another day.

"Every day is a different day," says Mike of the Safe House. "I like working one-on-one with the kids. I like being there for them, you know, and helping them out any way that I can.

Hoʻomaikaʻi to Mike! We are so thankful to have him as part of our Ke Kama Pono Safe House ʻohana.

Na Makamae is our monthly segment where we recognize employees who are doing tremendous work with the children and families they serve.  'Na Makamae' refers to those who are prized, highly valued, highly appreciated. Na Makamae are those who are endeared to us.