Kalihi YMCA

Taking a Stake in Kalihi.

Clubs in Search of a Home

Teens in Kalihi wanted—and needed—a safe place to socialize. The Hi-Y and Jr. Hi-Y Clubs for high school and middle school students first met in schools and churches under the supervision of the Central YMCA. In 1941, the Nu‘uanu YMCA stepped in to oversee the clubs. During WWII, they met at Farrington High Schoo; then in 1948, a wartime building near Bishop Museum. Finally, in 1952, the clubs from the Kalihi Y got a building of their own.

From its inception, Kalihi YMCA focused on the needs of neighborhood youth. By 1968, the YMCA had 1,081 members and over 50 youth clubs from grade school to high school.

Reaching Out to Teens—on Their Own Turf

In the 1960s, gangs began to form in Hawai‘i. Kalihi YMCA sent outreach worker Dan Horiuchi to Chicago to study the City’s approach. He returned with the Outreach Detached Worker Program, an on-the-street method of getting to know youth and providing guidance through trust. Today, it’s the foundation for the YMCA’s substance abuse treatment program with 40 counselors onsite in middle and high schools in high risk communities.

Edward M.L. Ching, owner of Kalihi Supermarket, poses with beaming Y participants Robert Onekea and Milton Inamine, and Y Leader Michael Yamamoto in 1959.
Kalihi Y outreach staff worked on the streets where they steered teens away from drugs, gangs and alcohol. Most importantly, they served as adult friends and positive role models.
Kamehameha Lions Campership with Kalihi Y youth in 1950.
When Angelia was 10 years old, her mother was in prison and her hanai grandmother passed away. Angry and alone, she sought friendship in a gang. Says Angelina, “The Y saved my life. My Y counselor heard me, valued me, and empowered me to make better choices.” Today, Angelina has come full circle as a Y counselor where she “lets teens know they matter.”

Leeward YMCA ➔