Meeting human needs and preserving local culture are twin core values espoused by our community through the Focus Maui Nui process. Sharon Balidoy, a social worker at Queen Lili`uokalani Children’s Center (QLCC) in Wailuku, is a prime example of a practitioner active on both fronts, making profound contributions to the community.
QLCC is one of ten units statewide founded by the Queen Lili`uokalani Trust; the trust was founded over a century ago. “The work of the Children’s Center is to offer support and counseling services for Hawaiian orphans and their `ohana,” says Balidoy. “Family strengthening services are also provided to children living apart from their biological parents.”
Central to the mission of QLCC is perpetuation of Hawaiian culture and spirituality, and at the Wailuku Center, this means activities such as crafts, music, dance, and site visits to instill a sense of place. Balidoy estimates that QLCC reaches over a thousand children on Maui. “Our staff consists mostly of social workers working in specific communities, and an important aspect of our work is functioning as an effective team”, says Balidoy.
Balidoy is an expert on teamwork – she is a highly-respected competitive outrigger canoe paddler and helped establish Lae`ula O Kai canoe club almost 20 years ago, based at Kanaha Beach Park in Kahului. “Club members have put a lot of work into Park improvements, observes Balidoy. “Participating in community work days and keeping cultural traditions in mind are cornerstones of the club’s activities.”
Over the years, Balidoy has also been intimately involved in hula – she founded the Hālau Hula Alapa`i I Maluuluolele – “another one of my families,” she chuckles. “I studied under my mother, and for my sister and I, hula was a way of life. Now we both teach. The chants and hula are not about competition or seeking perfection. We practice out of respect for our ancestors and to understand their ways and the places they knew and memorialized.” Balidoy leads classes in Lahaina and Paukukalo.