March is National Social Work Month, and to help celebrate, we are featuring four longtime staff members at Hale Kipa who are making a difference with Hawaii’s at-risk youth and their families, as well as our organization as a whole. They each discuss the opportunities and challenges to their different positions, as well as why they got involved with social work and with Hale Kipa.
The official theme for Social Work Month in March 2018 is “Social Workers: Leaders. Advocates. Champions,” according to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). For more on Social Work Month, visit socialworkmonth.org or #SWMonth on social media.
Why did you decide to get into this line of work?
Jaque Kelley-Uyeoka, Deputy CEO: My family were role models of giving generously to the community and seeking to make the community a better place. When I was young, I responded to helping neighbors deal with a fire to their home. The sense of both serving them and feeling like I was helpful meant a great deal to me and sealed my wanting to help others. Social work also fit with my grass-roots, unassuming style.
Dori Tyau, Director of Human Resources: When I graduated from high school and was accepted at the University of Hawaii, I enrolled in the School of Travel Industry Management because it sounded interesting. After one semester, I knew that was not what I wanted to do, so I got out of that program, thinking I would major in psychology because I found those subjects fascinating. I saw a career counselor who told me that if I hoped to work in a field where I could use the degree, I would have to continue on in a graduate program. She was the person who first suggested I think about social work. I was hesitant at first, because my understanding of social work was so limited. However, I wanted to do some type of work that helped people, but I had really hoped to work with children/teens. Once I checked out the MSW program, I discovered that I could explore many different opportunities, so that was the beginning for me.
Alika Campbell, Program Coordinator of Youth Outreach (YO!) and Transitional Living Programs: When I started my undergraduate work at Boston University, I planned to return to Hawaii upon graduation and get my advanced astronomy degree at the University of Hawaii, then work at the telescopes on Mauna Kea. During my time at Boston University, I realized two things about astronomy as a career: First, the math was really hard, and second, it wasn’t likely to make the type of difference in the world that I want to make. I initially worked at Hale Kipa for two-and-a-half years. After hitting burnout, I started taking classes at the University of Hawaii before returning to YO! when I ran out of savings and needed to get a full-time job. Hale Kipa had three months remaining on a yearlong grant to work with clients on housing assistance. I took the job, initially planning to only work at YO! long enough to finish out the grant. Those three months have turned into 20 years.
Nazo Shamal, PsyD, LCSW, Clinical Supervisor: Initially I thought I was going to be a speech and language pathologist. I majored in this area during my BA, and in my last year of undergrad, I attended a practicum that gave me hands-on experience. While I observed speech and language pathologists working one-on-one with youth, I realized that the majority of their work had to do with psychology and how they approached their clients on a humanistic level. I observed the speech and language pathologist (SLP) speaking in a calm, soft voice to a teenager who was suffering from low self-esteem because of his stuttering. I noticed the SLP created such a safe environment with his presence that it gave the youth an opportunity to share his deepest concerns. I realized at that moment this is the change I want to be a part of; building a collaborative relationship with a youth who is suffering and in need of a secure relationship, a sense of safety and place to be open to explore and find himself/herself. I wanted to hold a space for children to feel safe and help them see all the strength and potential they have.
What do you love most about your position?
Alika: Most days I feel privileged to be allowed to participate in the clients’ lives. They don’t have to come in for services, and they certainly don’t have to talk to me (after all, I’m just a haole guy who went to private school, what do I know about street life and homelessness). Perhaps what I like best is being able to provide an immediate service (be that a hot meal at Drop-In or a safe place to live for a while at the Transitional Living Program). Being allowed to participate in their lives, even just a little, is an honor that I don’t take lightly. Hale Kipa gives me the chance to make a difference (no matter how small) in the lives of the people we serve (and that’s way better than sitting on top of Mauna Kea looking at the sky).
Nazo: It’s a privilege and an honor to work with youth and their families. Being a part of hearing their stories and being a part of that change that happens in their lives when things start to click for them. The profound human connections that occur are beyond what words could explain. Being in a loving, caring and team-oriented environment at Hale Kipa makes it my second family. When I first started, (Hale Kipa CEO) Punky would always say I had “rose-colored glasses” on all the time, which I believe I still do. When I think of our youth and how much they have suffered, there is nothing better than nurturing those glimmers of joy and happiness that would spring up from time to time in their faces. Hale Kipa gave me the opportunity to search and find that in every youth I encountered.
Jaque: In my previous positions, I loved working with the youth, and the licensing and working with the incredible Kamala Home parents we had. Now, except for providing services to Ho‘okala youth, I don’t get to work directly with our clients much. I love the community involvement, developing new programs, writing proposals, and supporting the program coordinators and their staff. Now that I am heading toward retirement, I am looking forward to having someone take my place who will take the agency to the next stage (with the rest of the team) and be an excellent supervisor and leader for the staff.
What are the most valuable impacts of social work?
Nazo: Social work has a long history of building stronger communities and protecting children from abusive situations. One of our greatest challenges is that there are not enough people to help. We need to educate people on the variety of opportunities social work provides its professionals. Some people tend to associate social workers with Child Protective Services (CPS) only. When someone says social worker they immediately think “it’s the person that comes and takes your kids away.” This world would be a terrible place without social workers.
Jaque: The foundation of being strength-based, seeing the inherent good in people, believing in the potential of people and helping them find their voice, and knowing how to advocate and obtain resources. It’s a humble and gratifying way to serve people.
What are the greatest challenges in the field?
Jaque: Our clients have numerous challenges, ranging from drugs to poverty and crime. Social workers in general face a lack of decent salaries that would encourage people who would make awesome social workers to consider and stay in the field.
Alika: I don’t know about “the field” as a whole, but as far as YO! and the Transitional Living Program (TLP) go (and perhaps youth homelessness in general) I think funding and consistency of effort may be the greatest challenge. There have been a lot of folks talking about wanting to do something about youth homelessness, but that usually doesn’t seem to translate into consistent funding/resources for programs like YO! or TLP.
Anything you wish more people knew about social work?
Dori: Social work is not just a job. It’s about the effect one can have on someone’s life. As (Hale Kipa CEO) Punky always says, it is about the privilege we are graced with, to be allowed into an individual’s life and walk beside him/her as they go through a period in their lives that is typically challenging for them. We don’t change people, we help people facilitate their own change, and take control of their lives, accept responsibility and build on the resilience they already have.
What are the highlights of working at Hale Kipa?
Dori: The mission and the people. I believe wholeheartedly in the mission of this organization, the values we espouse and our efforts to live them. Although I don’t work in the field anymore, I firmly believe that the folks in the business office are the backbone to the organization and we support the staff so that they can go out in the field, reaching youth and families and doing the good work that they do. No one is here for the money and living in Hawaii, that is huge. It takes a lot to make ends meet but the staff we have are with us because they choose to be a part of an organization that is providing services that are so desperately needed in our communities. I am both proud and grateful to be a part of Hale Kipa. I have been here more than half of my life, and as long as the agency will have me, I am planning to stay.
Jaque: The people, the energy, the great work done with the youth, the commitment of so many people, the flexibility, the capacity to grow and contribute, and the ability to make a difference.
Nazo: I love the people at Hale Kipa from top to bottom; it truly stands for house of friendliness. Hale Kipa is not just a workplace, it is literally part of our being; ask any staff that has been around for a while. We truly feel like family, at least for me it does. Hale Kipa will forever be in my heart.
About our four featured staff:
Jaque Kelley-Uyeoka has worked at Hale Kipa for 38 years, serving as a social worker, program coordinator, program director and in her current position as deputy CEO. After earning her master’s degree from the University of Hawaii, her first professional social work job was at the Salvation Army Home for Pregnant and Parenting Girls. She then spent a brief time on the mainland before returning to Hawaii and starting her career with Hale Kipa. As deputy CEO, she oversees and supports the program staff and spearheads grant writing.
Director of Human Resources
Dori Tyau has worked at Hale Kipa for 27 years, serving as the director of human resources since 2004. She started at Hale Kipa in 1991 as a program coordinator for the Girls’ Emergency Shelter, and has also worked in several roles for the Ho‘okala Program, including the oversight of the Emergency Shelter, Relief Department and Ho‘okala. She graduated in 1990 with a master’s degree in social work from the University of Hawaii, where she completed her second year MSW practicum at Farrington High School, in the School to Work Transition Center. Soon after graduation, Dori started working at Hale Kipa, which she first heard about when she was in high school from a friend who had used Hale Kipa’s Emergency Shelter Program services after running away from home.
Program Coordinator of Hale Kipa Youth Outreach (YO!) and Transitional Living Programs
Alika Campbell has nearly 23 years of experience working with Hale Kipa clients through a variety of positions in the Emergency Shelter, Independent Living, Transitional Living and Youth Outreach (YO!) programs. He currently serves as the program coordinator for the Youth Outreach (YO!) and Transitional Living Programs. Previously he worked with youth in camp settings on Oahu, and through special planetarium programs at Bishop Museum, and volunteered with the Boston University peer hotline, SpeakEasy, while earning his bachelor’s degree in psychology and astronomy. Born and raised in Hawaii, Alika also holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Hawaii.
Nazo Shamal, PsyD, LCSW
Nazo Shamal has worked with Hale Kipa for 15 years, as a program therapist, intake specialist, program coordinator, clinical supervisor and consultant. Nazo holds a master’s degree in social work from New York University and a doctorate in psychology from the Hawaii School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University, concentration in diversity. Prior to her work with Hale Kipa, she served as a licensed social worker at Queens Child Guidance Center in New York. She has also worked as a FEMA crisis response worker during 9/11, training professionals on how to treat and respond to Muslim populations. In her current role as a clinical supervisor, she provides clinical consultation and clinical supervision for Hale Kipa’s Kauai intensive in-home program and East Hawaii transitional foster care program.
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