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“Aunty” Betty Kawohiokalani Ellis Jenkins, hulu kupuna, passed peacefully this past weekend.

Aunty Betty liked to report that she was a first born of a first born, of a first born. She is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools and was the first student of color of then Muskingum College, now Muskingum University in Ohio.  A retired elementary teacher, Aunty Betty taught in Ohio, California, throughout Micronesia, Guam and Hawai’i.

More than a kupuna member of Papa Ola Lōkahi’s board, Aunty Betty was part of the POL ‘ohana for many years.  She served on the advisory councils for the Pacific Diabetes Education Program, ‘Imi Hale – Native Hawaiian Cancer Network, and as a cultural advisor to the traditional healing program, where she partnered with Babette Galang to deliver presentations on Hawaiian values, culture and beliefs for practitioners and providers at Tripler Medical Center and Veteran Affairs. For 10 years, she participated in the Wisdom of the Elders session at the annual convention of the American Public Health Association.

With an emphasis on Hawaiian language, tradition, history and cultural values through teaching, modeling and mentorship, Aunty Betty captivated audiences with her setting of the most relaxed impromptu educational backgrounds known as her “ambience.” Always the educator, she championed a code of ethics she called her “4Bs – Believe, Behave, Become and Belong.”

Her foundation came from her parents Richmond Kaliko Ellis of Nāwiliwili, Kaua‘i and Elizabeth Nālani Spencer Merseberg of Hāmākua, Hawai‘i.  Tutu Ellis, māmā and mentor, was manaleo who lived to be 100.

Aunty Betty wore many hats, even in her retirement. She was the alaka‘i of OHA’s Kupuna Team, which included Aunties Nalehua Knox, Ulu Garmon and Maile Vargo. She continued her relationships with Life Foundation, Haudenosaunee Nation, Native Hawaiian Education Council, Hawaiian Civic Clubs and her favorite North Shore community groups.

Aunty Betty was recognized for her lifetime achievements by the Hawai‘i House and Senate, Native Hawaiian Education Council, North Shore Chamber of Commerce, Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Kamehameha Schools.  She was awarded the Ka‘ōnohi Award by Papa Ola Lokahi, Ka Lama Kukui Award by the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs and was named a Living Treasure by the Honpa Hongwanji.

Aunty B was dedicated to her ‘ohana and their shared practice of unity, balance and harmony, and connection with Ke Akua and her Hawai‘i.

Our aloha to her children Kimo, Kaipo and Nālani, and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                              February 23, 2022


(Kaka‘ako, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i)   Papa Ola Lōkahi has been awarded $20,000 from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to support COVID-19 testing and vaccination events in rural and predominantly Hawaiian communities throughout the islands. 

Since early 2021, Papa Ola Lōkahi (POL) and the Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Hawai‘i COVID-19 Response, Recovery & Resilience Team (NHPI 3R) have been supporting community-friendly events in rural communities to offer health education, COVID-19 testing, and vaccinations.

“These community pop-ups have been incredibly successful in the way they have been based in communities, featured local celebrities, local entertainment and local doctors, and offered services and educational materials to the public,” waxes Dr. Sheri Daniels, Papa Ola Lōkahi executive director. “They have attracted neighbors, friends and whole families to come out and learn more.”

In partnership with the Department of Health, medical providers such as Project Vision Hawai‘i, COVIDpau, Honolulu Community Action Program, Ke Ola Mamo and other health care providers, Honolulu Fire Department, Keiki Heroes and others, the funding will enable POL, which serves as the backbone organization for the NHPI 3R, to maintain the quality of outreach that has been  successful, and broaden its reach to neighbor island rural communities.

OHA is also demonstrating its support of the NHPI 3R, whose collective work includes standardizing the way COVID-related data is collected, analyzed and reported,” Daniels continues. “Papa Ola Lōkahi has been tracking emerging research and guidance, evaluating social services and safety net programs, and implementing innovative outreach into Native Hawaiian (and Pacific Islander) communities.”

OHA serves on the board of Papa Ola Lōkahi .

The funding will support testing and vaccination events through the end of June on all islands in partnership with the five Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems and other Hawaiian-serving community partners.


Papa Ola Lōkahi, the Hawaiian Health Board established in 1988, is charged with raising the health status of Native Hawaiians to the highest possible level, which it achieves through partnership, programs and public policy. Learn more at papaolalokahi.org

Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Hawai‘i COVID-19 Response, Recovery & Resiliency Team was established in May 2020 to improve the collection and reporting of accurate data, identify and lend support to initiatives across Hawai‘i to address COVID-19 among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, and unify to establish a presence in the decision-making processes and policies that impact our communities. Learn more at NHPICOVIDHawaii.net

Office of Hawaiian Affairs, established by the state Constitutional Convention in 1978, is a semi-autonomous state agency mandated to better conditions of Native Hawaiians.  Guided by a board of nine publicly-elected trustees, OHA fulfills its mandate through advocacy, research, community engagement, land management and the funding of community programs.  Learn more at oha.org

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Papa Ola Lōkahi was honored to partner with Pashyn Santos, local filmmakers, and Hawaii news outlets for ʻOur Kuleana, Made with Pashynʻ – a project meant to open the door for conversations about COVID-19, its impact on our community, and the controversy surrounding vaccination.

Pashyn has always leveraged humor and entertainment to bring light to important social conversations, and it is our hope that this special does exactly that. This fast-paced, fact-filled, half-hour program will bring joy to everyone, regardless of their stance on vaccination. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Papa Ola Lōkahi has tried to engage community through different mediums – in-person events, social media campaigns, and PSAs. Education and awareness are the key components in building a healthy, happier, and safer Hawai'i for everyone

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                   November 9, 2021                                            Poster attached

Ten new awards for Native Hawaiians in health and medicine

(Kaka‘ako, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i)   The Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program congratulates ten (10) recipients of the 2021-2022 cohort of scholars. 

“We’re so pleased with the diversity of experiences in this cohort, says Dr. Donna-Marie Palakiko, director of Papa Ola Lōkahi’s health workforce development initiative, Mauli Ola Mālamalama. 

The recipients include four physicians, three are attending John A. Burns School of Medicine and one Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.  One dentist is in school at the University of Washington.  Three nurses have been awarded.  Of the ten, two are continuation recipients, one completing her dietetics degree at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and the other completing her degree in Clinical Psychology at Pacific University. One student is from Hawai‘i Island; three each are from Maui, O‘ahu and the continental U.S.

Modeled after the National Health Service Corps, the Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program (NHHSP) has been a catalyst in building a workforce knowledgeable, capable and committed to serving the unique needs of Hawaiian communities. Each graduating scholar is obliged, upon completion of study and licensure, to serve full-time in a clinical capacity in medically under-served areas in Hawai'i for a period commensurate with the length of scholarship support.

Since 1991, more than 300 NHHSP awards have been made in 20 different primary and behavioral health care disciplines and even more sub-specialties. More than 200 have been placed into the workforce across six islands impacting the well-being of the communities they serve. More than half of those have chosen to stay in those communities beyond the required service obligation.

“These scholars join a vast network of Native Hawaiian health professionals,” shares Dr. Donna-Marie Palakiko, herself a NHHSP alumna. “Speaking from experience, the relationships developed will continue throughout their professional careers.”

Dr. Sheri Daniels, Papa Ola Lokahi executive director adds, “So many of our NHHSP alumni have risen to positions of leadership in medical, public health and Hawaiian communities. Beyond building a Hawaiian health workforce, this program has been a catalyst for Hawaiian leadership development.”

Visit www.nhhsp.org for more information about the Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program.                                

Applications for the 2022-2023 cohort will open in the Spring 2022.


PDF News Release attached

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Kakoo Ulu Oihana


The Kako‘o Ulu ‘Oihana program provides one time support for members of the health care workforce that are committed to serving Native Hawaiian communities.

Kako‘o Ulu ‘Oihana is a program of the Mauli Ola Mālamalama Hale of Papa Ola Lōkahi. Mauli Ola Mālamalama is a workforce program whose purpose is to support and facilitate the continued development of Native Hawaiian Health Professionals to increase the economic propensity for the Native Hawaiian community.

The goal of Kako‘o Ulu ‘Oihana is to establish additional health scholarship pathways and provide workforce development opportunities to improve the career trajectory and potential of Native Hawaiians to improve their economic opportunities and growth.

Applicants may apply for funding to support costs related to books and supplies, prep course, certifications and licensure, and conferences that are related to a project or presentation.

For more information visit mom.smapply.org or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Applications are now being accepted and will close September 19 at 11:59 PM (HST).

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