LIHUE — What started out as a dream soon became a reality for Ann Hettinger and Lehela Chandler Correa.
The last time The Garden Island spoke with Hettinger and Correa, their 38-page workbook, “Aloha: What It Means to My Ohana and Yours,” was just a gift to 300 Hanalei School students because of the generosity of two North Shore part-time residents.
Now? The gift of aloha is blossoming throughout the Garden Isle.
Hettinger and Correa spoke to TGI outside of Wilcox Elementary School on Friday after delivering 850 copies of their book to the school.
“It’s really exciting, it’s what we’ve been wanting to achieve,” Hettinger said. “I was driving here this morning and it hit me and I really felt that I was finally doing what I was meant to do: bringing aloha back.”
The two women established Aloha Publishing Hawaii to kickstart the book and have been working to get it into Kauai’s public elementary schools. Their hard work appears to be paying off.
With the support of Complex-Area Superintendent Bill Arakaki, Hettinger and Correa have delivered another 372 books to Kekaha Elementary and 324 books to Kilauea Elementary in the past two months.
“It’s definitely aligned to our efforts to increase literacy. This book allows kids to read and comprehend and it also ties in with our values related to the aloha spirit, so not only literacy, but the values, are combined together, which is great for our students,” Arakaki told TGI.
The book has been getting positive reviews from students.
Keeping the spirit of aloha alive and well was the driving force behind this book, and it couldn’t be done without Correa, Hettinger said.
“Lahela has a huge heart and her sincerity is what I really love. She is the true Ambassador of Aloha,” Hettinger said. “Honestly, without Lahela I don’t think I would have really understood the true meaning of aloha.”
Correa is overwhelmed by the support from the community and the public schools, but is most pleased the message of the book is reaching Kauai’s keiki.
“Aloha has been missing a long time,” she said. “It’s a blessing for us to do something in our community and make it a positive impact and making aloha the key. These kids are our future. And if it can get done in the schools, then we can create amazing leaders, amazing husbands and wives. We bring our kupuna’s legacy forward, and it’s the gift that we can give to the future.”
The book is a workbook for people of any age group, not just young children, according to Correa. Even Hettinger has learned a thing or two about living life with aloha.
“It’s a become a way of life for me. What’s the saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ I’m so happy that we are part of this great village, the Hawaiian Islands out in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean.”