Terry Nakamura believes in authenticity. In his work, he genuinely respects the individuals that he works with and the families that he serves and encourages his staff to do the same.
Terry has been with Partners in Development Foundation’s Ka Paʻalana Homeless Family Education program for almost 12 years. He started out with the program as a Family Education Trainer and now works as a Family Literacy Trainer.
“He has a heart for serving,” Jason Kahawai says of Terry. Jason is Ka Paʻalana’s Outreach Coordinator and has known Terry since 2007. “When I met him, I recognized that when new families or families in homeless situations would come to our program, Terry would greet them all the same and provide them with all the same amount of time.”
From day one, Terry believes he’s had such a privilege to serve, walk with, and learn from the families of Ka Paʻalana. He calls himself a ‘townie’ and admits to being nervous when he first started working for the program on the west side of Oʻahu, questioning why the families would trust or let a stranger into their lives.
Curriculum Specialist Kathy Fong has known Terry since his ‘townie’ days – the families of the two grew up together at Nuʻuanu Baptist Church.
“The way he relates with people is very genuine,” Kathy says. “I feel like I can tell him anything and I won’t be judged for it, and he’ll listen and really want to help me through whatever it is I’m sharing with him.”
This same sentiment is echoed by other staff and repeated in anecdotes for how Terry works with both the staff and the families served by Ka Paʻalana. His way of looking at people on an even keel has been an invaluable trait that encourages all those he meets to take a second look at themselves and ask, ‘Am I the kind of person that can inspire someone else?’
Ka Paʻalana has four components: Mālama Mobile (first contact homeless outreach), a traveling Family-Child Interaction Learning (FCIL) program, family education services (including life skills classes and GED prep), and ʻIke Noʻeau, a traveling preschool program providing math and science curriculum to families at shelters in Waiʻanae and Waimānalo.
The program’s overall aim is to increase the success and self-sufficiency of homeless families. It gives adults the tools they need – life skills, parenting skills, greater self-esteem – to pick themselves up and be better caregivers to their children.
“We’re not just about curriculum, you know, and setting up site,” he says. “We’re about walking with people and trying to transform lives and generations.”
Mahalo nui loa, Terry, from all of Partners in Development Foundation!
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.