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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                    
November 9, 2007

Release No. M-123-07






WHERE: The Pineapple Room, Macy’s Ala Moana Center

WHEN: 5:30 p.m., November 13, 2007



            Mayor Mufi Hannemann will honor the recipients of the 2007 Ho’oko Awards, recognizing outstanding employees and businesses that participated in the Oahu WorkLinks’ workforce development program. 


            Oahu WorkLinks is a consortium of City, State, and private agencies focused on implementing the mandates of the federal Workforce Investment Act in the City and County of Honolulu. 


            The awards ceremony will be held Tuesday, November 13, 2007, starting at 5:30 p.m. in the Pineapple Room at Macy’s Ala Moana Center.


            Mayor Hannemann said, “I am very pleased to recognize10 individuals who have overcome barriers and, through hard work and commitment, have entered the workforce and improved their own lives, and the lives of their families and the community. 


            “In addition, four local businesses will be honored for their excellence in training and caring for their new and existing employees, helping them excel in the workplace and in their communities.”


The Oahu WorkLinks consortium was formed in 1999 to provide a unique workforce preparation and employment system designed to meet both the needs of businesses and job seekers or workers who want to further their careers. A one-stop system of seven job centers around Oahu enables job seekers to easily access information and training services to meet their employment needs.

Outstanding Employees


Vanessa Lancaster Ilae (Dislocated Worker Program): Although Vanessa lost her job due to company downsizing, this 22-year-old single parent never let this setback prevent her from attaining her goals.  She successfully obtained her AS degree in Accounting at Leeward Community College while raising a family and working full time at Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center. 


Lopeka Kelekomo (Adult Program): After receiving her certification in Office Administration & Technology from the Employment Training Center, Lopeka applied for a job with the United States Postal Service.  Through her hard work, she was selected by the employer among many applicants and is currently working as a Postal Carrier. 


Leanne Lee (Family Self Sufficiency Program): Leanne is a single mother of three children ages 19, 12, and 9. Leanne enrolled in the Family Self Sufficiency program in 2004, and she has managed to increase her income and is on her way to becoming 100 percent self- sufficient.  Leanne is currently employed at Hawaii Memorial Cemetery as a sales representative. Her ultimate goal is to purchase a home for her family.


Jason Rhee (Veterans Program): Jason, a Marine Corps veteran of the Iraq War, overcame multiple barriers and has achieved many accomplishments since returning from Iraq.  The Honolulu One-Stop Center veterans’ counselor assisted Jason with housing and employment services.  Jason has been hired for a position with the Employment Security Appeals Referee’s Office in the State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.  Jason also has obtained an Associate’s degree, and his goal is to continue his education.


Penny Nichols (Work Readiness Program): Penny is a single mother of three children. She was referred to the Work Readiness program to assist her and her family with housing.  Penny holds a Nevada State Board Certified Nurses Assistant certificate and also attained her CPR certification.  Penny enrolled in a Medical Assistant program at Remington College.  She is employed part-time with Commercial Building Maintenance and is working as a custodian while attending night classes.


Jessie Freitas (Ho`ala Job Club): Jessie, a young, single mother, has overcome many obstacles in her life.  She currently is employed full-time with the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii as a receptionist.


Faavaefou Tia (Ho`ala Job Readiness Workshop): Faavaefou grew up in American Samoa.  A single, young mother with three children, she had limited work experience and job skills to secure employment to support herself and her children.  Through the classes offered through the Ho`ala program, she was able to learn about problem solving, decision making, time management, budgeting and money management, job retention, work ethic, and stress management.  She relished the opportunities presented to her and attended every day without absence or tardiness.  Tia was placed at Lanakila Rehabilitation Center as a volunteer housekeeping and kitchen helper to obtain work skills and develop social interaction skills.  For the past six months, her supervisor has praised her for always being punctual, friendly, helpful, and hardworking.


Ofelia Pagaragan (National Emergency Grant): Ofelia worked as a Del Monte Fresh Produce worker for 25 years.  She attended Certified Nursing Assistant training, and a 150- hour intensive classroom and clinical training at Leeward Community College.  Upon completion, she attained a Certificate of Professional Development.  Her accomplishments led to employment as a certified nursing assistant with Family Service of Hawaii in Waipahu. 


Jeannie Yingst (Certified Nursing Assistant Grant): Jeannie is a graduate of the "Long Term Care Nurse Aide" training with Kapiolani Community College.  Her commitment to succeed was not only evident in her studies but also in her work ethic.  For nine weeks, Ms. Yingst caught the 4:30 a.m. bus three times a week from her home in Waianae to be in school by 7 a.m. Currently, she is employed with the Department of Human Services, Respite Care Program, as an elderly care aide with Ma`iliola Adult Day Care.

Theresa Ani  (Youth Program): Theresa is a senior attending Nanakuli High School.  As an adolescent, she has faced many obstacles.  Despite those obstacles, she maintains a positive, optimistic attitude and is determined to better her future by staying in school.  Now, as an expecting mother, she still is able to maintain a 3.2 grade point average and to hold a job.  As an employee, she exemplifies great customer service skills that have earned her two customer service awards.

Outstanding Businesses


Aloha Petroleum has been a business partner since 2005 and has participated in numerous Oahu WorkLinks’-sponsored job fairs and on-the-job training program.  Aloha Petroleum has hired participants from TANF, Food Stamp and Section 8 programs.  Aloha Petroleum also invests in the well-being and self-sufficiency of their employees.  To date, 26 of the 40 management level employees have been promoted from within.


Palama Holdings has been a household name in Hawaii for more than 30 years.  Since 2003, Palama Holdings has partnered with Oahu WorkLinks (OWL), providing more than 60 job opportunities to OWL customers, employing many either through the on-job-training program or through direct hire.  Palama Holdings also dedicates its recruitment efforts to hiring dislocated workers from companies that are no longer doing business or downsizing their workforce.  Recently, the company hired several dislocated workers from Frito Lay and Del Monte.


Tanioka’s Seafoods & Catering has been working with Oahu WorkLinks for the past two years, providing their employees with promotional opportunities.  Tanioka’s has proven itself as a company where jobseekers obtain long-term employment.  Trainees who have gone through the on-the-job training program put themselves through college while working full time at Tanioka’s.  Many have returned to work at Tanioka’s after completing their education.  This is an example of the level of commitment Tanioka’s has for the health and well-being of their employees.


Waikiki Health Center has been working with Oahu WorkLinks for the past three years, giving their employees promotional opportunities.  Six employees have participated in an on-job-training program.  Of the six, four are still employed at the Waikiki Health Center, and two have used their experience at the Waikiki Health Center to move on to other jobs.


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Rolanse Crisafulli  (592-8621)

Jeff Tom (221-4174)


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

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