Friends of Ko'okena Beach Park
for its dark-gray coral and lava sand beach, Ho'okena was transformed
from a sleepy little fishing village to a bustling commercial trade
center after the first steamships arrived in the Hawaiian Islands
in 1836. It wasn't until the mid-1930s that the village's economic
importance began to diminish. The introduction of automobiles and
trucks made steamship landings at Ho'okena less common and many
residents moved away from the remote village to be closer to the
highway. The beautiful Ho'okena Beach remained, however, and residents
have been working hard over the past few years to reposition that
beach at the center of the community's cultural and economic life.
Friends of Ho'okena Beach Park (FOHBP) is a non-profit 501(c)(3)
organization established by members of the Ho'okena community. FOHBP
is an outgrowth of Kama?aina United to Protect the ?Aina (KUPA),
a community organization focused on the preservation of cultural
and natural resources and culturally sensitive economic development
Through the University of Hawai'i at Hilo and the Hawai'i Small
Business Development Network, FOHBP received Department of Housing
& Urban Development (HUD) Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions
Serving Communities (AN/NHIAC) funds to develop a community microenterprise.
FOHBP's primary objective was to develop a sustainable microenterprise
that would provide employment opportunities for community members
and to return management of Ho'okena Beach Park to the community.
In May 2007, the County of Hawai'i signed an agreement with FOHBP
to transfer management oversight of the park to FOHBP. The agreement
required that FOHBP use microenterprise revenues to maintain the
park. FOHBP has hired community members to maintain the park and
provide park security via the "Aloha Patrol".
This renewed the popularity of Ho'okena Beach Park and it is now
listed on travel websites as one of the island's best beaches for
camping, swimming and snorkeling. The County of Hawai'i is using
this successful partnership as a model for establishing similar
community based partnerships at other county parks.