A “one-stop center” pilot project that aims to help Micronesians in Hawaii was opened in Kalihi Friday.

The center wants to serve as a “central hub” linking Micronesian communities, families and individuals with public services and other resources.

The Hālau Ola One-Stop Center is located at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church at 720 N. King Street in Honolulu.

“In addition, the center will connect the Micronesian community with federal, state and county representatives and agencies to further advocacy and self- empowerment,” according to a press release.

Micronesian One-Stop Center

An opening ceremony for a new “one-stop center” in Kalihi to help Micronesians in Hawaii.

We Are Oceania

The one-stop center is run by We Are Oceania (WAO), which advocates for Pacific Islanders from the Micronesia region living and working in Hawaii. The Micronesian population in Hawaii, which hails from Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and other islands, is estimated to total between 15,000 and 17,000 people.

“The Micronesia region faces many challenges such as U.S. militarization and weapons testing, loss of land from rising ocean levels, and lack of a sustainable, local food supply,” said WAO’s program director, Josie Howard. “Limited options force many Micronesians to leave their home in search of a better life for themselves and their families. Many individuals and families legally come to Hawaii to seek proper medical treatment, a better education and other opportunities  that are unavailable in their home community.”

The grand opening of the Hālau Ola One-Stop Center drew guest speakers from the U.S. Department of Interior, the state of Hawaii’s Department of Human Services and from the local nonprofit Partners in Development Foundation.

Introductory  services will focus on orienting newcomers from Micronesia to their new environment and “supporting  them with common ongoing challenges,” including:

  • assistance with obtaining legal and necessary documents such as Social Security cards and state IDs;
  • education on Hawaii laws and policies and procedures (e.g., traffic, criminal, child welfare, education);
  • pre-employment  skills;
  • housing rules and regulations;
  • resource referrals;
  • language translation and cross-cultural  consulting; and
  • parent training on Hawaii’s education system and requirements.

The center is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon, but it plans to expand the hours of operation as the need for services grow. Call 1 (808) 754-7303 for more information.

Read Civil Beat’s related article, Micronesian Immigration an ‘Important Civil Rights Issue’ Facing Hawaii.

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