Archive for the ‘Career’ Category

Ewa Beach man dedicates life to charity

November 13th, 2015

When 30 year old Michael Mendoza was growing up in Ewa Beach, he didn't see a future for himself. "My relatives were involved in an Oahu gang, with crimes so violent they were more than once the subject of news reports," he recalls.

"My brother eventually had to be sent to the Philippines because of his heavy involvement in gang activity. He even became very violent even to me. I was very sad and afraid for him," Mendoza details.

The pain of seeing relatives in and out of the legal system hurt deeply. "I remember being at a family party when I was about eight years old. Suddenly, a bunch of us kids were ushered into a car to keep us safe because a fight broke out. Someone brought out a knife and was threatening to stab people."

His parents' divorce compounded the suffering. "I witnessed so much fighting when I was in elementary school, I found myself alone crying mostly every night," he shares. Rather than bringing the remaining siblings together, the conflict drove them apart.

Music, he says, was his escape, and the only uniting element for his family. "Music was the only time when I barely saw any fighting. My mother and sisters sing. My brother dances. I spin records." He started seriously spinning when he was 16 years old, and hanging out with friends who were mobile DJs to learn more.

Michael Mendoza, aka DJ Kurious

Michael Mendoza, aka DJ Kurious

He eventually started his own DJ business, DJ Kurious Hawaii, to play at weddings, parties, and clubs. Music gives to him - but it also lets him give to others.

It was the force that kept him alive inside, he says, because the problems of his youth had grown into a major problem. "I felt very alone in life and had no purpose. When I graduated from high school in 2003, I went through a great depression and did nothing at all with my life. I stayed home a whole year."

Mendoza at the Y, 2006. Courtesy: Michael Mendoza

Mendoza at the Y, 2006. Courtesy: Michael Mendoza

In 2004, Mendoza got a job at the YMCA's Leeward branch. There, he befriended his coworkers, who were all active volunteers in the community. It changed him profoundly.

"The YMCA taught me important values that I was never shown in my youth. I credit Leeward YMCA's program director Eric Bautista for pushing and teaching me to grow professionally. He was a major reason I decided to take my schooling seriously," thanks Mendoza.


Bautista and Mendoza at YMCA, 2006. Courtesy: Michael Mendoza

Bautista and Mendoza at YMCA, 2006. Courtesy: Michael Mendoza

Bautista, who left the Y to start his own business, Party Pix Hawaii, remembers meeting Mendoza. "He was young and impressionable, lost and directionless. Yet I could tell he had a very good heart and needed someone to help mentor him."

Bautista gave Mendoza a position as his sports assistant to be nearer to him and help mentor him. It worked. "He excelled. His self-confidence grew, and expanded to other areas of his life."

The Y also gave him something else he didn't have: Family. This family inspired him to want to help others.

He enrolled at University of Phoenix pursuing a bachelor's degree in human services; he was graduated in 2012. At the same time, in order to support himself, Mendoza started working as a skills trainer for the Department of Education. Since 2007, he has been working with autistic children with violent and psychotic tendencies.

As helpful as working with autistic children was - "it brought out the best in me" - he still felt purposeless and drifting.

While on assignment at Makalapa Elementary School in 2010, he had another incredible experience that helped set his life's course. It came at a time when he characterizes his depression as being at an "all-time high."

The gift. Courtesy: Michael Mendoza

The gift. Courtesy: Michael Mendoza

"I had sprained my knees really bad and couldn't afford metal knee braces. A teacher I barely knew asked what happened to me, so I told her. The next day she handed me an envelope with over $350 in cash. She told me, 'This means much more to me than you think.'"

"I will never forget what she did for me. She gave more than just money, she gave me a purpose. I have never spent it. That envelope reminds me everyday that there are people out there like me, suffering and alone- but a simple act of kindness can change that person forever," he concludes softly.

All this time, Mendoza had been working on the side as a DJ - both for supplemental income, as well as a way to offer his services at fundraisers and non-profit events. However, he now wanted to step up his efforts in giving.


Mendoza rarely turns down a request to help. Two of his biggest charity causes are the Alzheimers Association, which is where I met him - we both volunteered at the Walk To End Alzheimers, and Honolulu Theater for Youth.


Me and Mike

He also works on the weekends at Slam Hype, a clothing store in Pearlridge Shopping Center which hires a live DJ to play in-store. "I get paid in clothes, and I started giving the clothes to homeless youth." He estimates he's given away $1,500 in new clothing.

In 2014 came the third and most powerful incident to shape his life. "I was put in touch with a very sad case of a homeless orphan," remembers Mendoza.

"The boy's family had abandoned him and he was living on the streets. I wanted to give him my clothing trade, so his social worker brought him to the store one weekend to meet me. The boy, in his late teens, looked down, like he wasn't sure what to expect. I said, 'I don't know what happened with your life, but I just want to help you out. Go pick out $250 in new clothes.'"

When the boy was finished, "he seemed scared or ashamed to make eye contact with me. He looked down, thanked me, and left. His social worker and my friend Deni Araki told me he cried the minute he left the store. Nobody had done anything nice for him in his life," finishes Mendoza.

That's when it all came together. "It was in that moment I knew my purpose in life. Everything lined up. The hardship of my youth, the people who showed me the value of service, and the woman who taught me the power of kindness. I finally understood exactly how that woman felt when she gave me the $350. I've now been on both sides."

From that moment on, Mendoza committed to a life of service. "This is my life's mission. To give."

That is not to say Mendoza has it easy. He accumulated $80,000 in student loans while pursuing his undergraduate degree.

Admirably, he still strives for higher education. He began graduate coursework for a master's degree in counseling at Wayland Baptist University, but stopped this year "because I was frightened looking at my debt." He knows he needs to return soon because when you start a graduate program, you have a certain amount of time to finish it or lose the credits.

He admits it's hard for him financially. Social work doesn't pay much.

Why, I ask, doesn't he stop giving away his time for a few years while he sorts out his college issues? Mendoza makes some money as a DJ on the weekends, which helps him chip away at his student loans, but he donates so much of his time to charity.

"I struggle, but other people's suffering is greater. I may not have the best possessions, but I'm still lucky to be comfortable. I want to share my blessings. I get way more from helping people," he explains.

His friends aren't surprised by his selfless nature. "He has always thought of everyone but himself," recalls Bautista. I remember when his father needed a vehicle, he just paid off his truck and gave it to his dad. He was struggling, but he still put his dad first. And he was only about 24 years old!"

I'm struck by Mendoza's humility. During our calls, he repeatedly said he wasn't interested in having attention on himself. In fact, he wanted to make sure to share his spotlight with the good people who inspire him, including the staff at Makalapa Elementary and Red Hill Elementary.

"I can't do much," he sighs, "but whatever I can do, it's something. I want to be part of the solution."

It is we who are blessed to have a person like this in our community.

Reach Michael Mendoza via or (808) 381-6494 cell.

Dr. Trey and the joy of ukulele

October 14th, 2015

Tracey Terada, aka Dr. Trey, picked up an ukulele at the age of five, and hasn't stopped playing. He sounds amazing: The music flows from his fingers; the ukulele, an extension of him.

He is a musician: a composer, an arranger, a producer, a performer, and above all, he says, a teacher. This year, he became my daughter's and my ukulele teacher.

Courtesy: Trey Terada

Trey Terada. Courtesy: Leslie Kuba

It's amazing being in the presence of someone so skilled at their craft. While I struggle to move my fingers from chord to chord, he talks to me while he plays, fingers moving instinctually.

His playing is vibrant, fluid, emotional, and as second-nature as breathing. Obviously, what you'd expect from a music professional.

Mine is tenuous, irregular, milquetoast, and as awkward as walking on fire. Obviously, what you'd expect from a newbie who is not a prodigy.

Trey Terada. Courtesy: Leslie Kuba

Trey Terada. Courtesy: Leslie Kuba

What I appreciate is his ability to be a teacher. Not everyone is cut out for it.

He's excellent at explaining the chords, patient with children, good at pacing out lessons to provide the right amount of challenge, and encouraging with feedback.

Here's why he does it: "I love that the ukulele can transport you somewhere that you could otherwise never get. I love the way the wood resonates against your chest and the sound vibrates. I feel no inhibitions when I play, as if I can do what I want. Nothing is forbidden. I want to help other people find that!"

Trey & me

Trey & me

Terada cites an oft-quoted study of the neuroscience of jazz musicians' brains. A John's Hopkins University team measured the players' brain waves during improvisation and found it increased creativity while turning off self-censoring parts of the brain.

Trey Terada. Courtesy: Leslie Kuba

Trey Terada. Courtesy: Leslie Kuba

"It's a small, two-octave instrument, but I feel there are no limits, no rules when I play it. I'm free to do what I want. It's the greatest feeling in the world," he says.

His best known student is virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro, just 17 years old when he asked Terada to teach him. Shimabukuro is today known around the world for his ukulele music, with appearances on most major US TV outlets as well as the esteemed National Public Radio.  Shimabukuro is an international star, but way back when, he started his career as Terada's pupil.

Terada describes Shimabukuro as a one-in-a-million talent. "He's the best player in the world. Nobody can touch him. It's the way he touches the strings, not just the speed of his fingers. He has a certain caress."

What Terada likes most about him, though, is his character. "He's very responsible in carrying the burden of being the torchbearer. He shows the world what the ukulele can do, and he always reminds people it's Hawaiian. He brings it back home. He's brilliant."

Terada tells a story that illustrates Shimabukuro's gift: "The first day we met, I asked him to play Yesterday by the Beatles, but not focusing on the lead string. That's hard to do. I didn't think he could do it. He called the next day and played it perfectly for me over the phone. I was blown away."

Shimabukuro returns the compliment. "Trey is an amazing teacher. I learned so much from him over the years and still love chatting about the ukulele with him from time to time. He is a dear friend and I owe most of my accomplishments to Trey. He taught me how to feel the music and to not be afraid to try new things. Trey is an amazing ukulele player, and I miss the many jam sessions we would have back in the day."

Terada's musical career has taken many twists and turns in his life, probably not unlike the careers of many artists. His parents signed him up for lessons at the Richards St. YWCA when he was five, and he stayed for about two years.

He continued playing on his own, listening to music on the radio and copying what he heard. He tuned in to the Ukulele Festival on KCCN-FM religiously every year to expose himself to new styles of playing.

In seventh grade at Kawananakoa Intermediate, he played trumpet in the band. "That was big for me. I learned to appreciate different types of music and how chords worked. I realized I could translate the chords to the ukulele," he recalls.

At McKinley High School, he played the euphonium in the band and started arranging music. "I arranged Mozart for the brass quintet," he says.

Terada also learned to play the piano, bass, guitar, and the Baroque recorder. He ended both his intermediate and high school band stints with Outstanding Bandsman awards.

When he attended Arizona State University on a partial music scholarship, he intended to become a band director, though switched majors to music history after a year because he realized he was fascinated with Baroque and Renaissance styles.

After two years, he missed Hawaii and returned home. He wanted to become more deeply involved in the music industry, and took a couple jobs at music stores. That's where he met Peter Moon, legendary ukulele and slack-key guitar player.

Terada started taking lessons from Moon in the early 1990s. "It was like the Karate Kid. I would show up at his house, vacuum, bring him dinner, and after all the work was done, we'd sit and play," he laughs.

Sadly, Moon suffered a stroke and is unable to contribute to this interview, but his guitarist Dwight Kanae remembers the period well. "Trey was around frequently and sometimes Peter would hang out with Trey more than with me!"

Terada describes it as "old school." "Peter expected me to hear it and repeat it. He wouldn't explain the chords."

Kanae agrees. "Trey hit the nail on the head. That's exactly Peter's teaching style."

One day, Moon commanded Terada to play him a song. Terada played Ahi Wela.

"Then he said, 'Now play it in ten different styles.' I was like, 'What?!'" Terada recounts.

"Peter said, 'What music do you listen to? Latin, classical, what?' So I went home and only came up with three styles: jazz, bossa nova, and Hawaiian. I played it for him at my next visit, and he approved. Only then, he started teaching me!" elaborates Terada.

One day, though, the teacher became the student. "Trey taught Peter a few songs. He played The Devil Went Down To Georgia by Charlie Daniels and Peter thought that was so cool. We almost used it on one of our recordings."

Today, Kanae says he absolutely hears Moon's influence on Terada's playing style - and he likes it. "On a scale of one to ten? Trey's an 11. I love the way that little bulldog plays!"

Of their year together as teacher and student, Terada says, "It feels so good to have learned from Peter. He oozes music. I see nobody playing like him. Through Peter, I learned the ukulele has so much more potential than I realized."

Terada's next formative experience came from a year of training with classical guitarist Lisa Smith, herself a former student of the iconic flamenco guitarist Pepe Romero. "I realized I could make the ukulele sound like a classical guitar," he says.

In his early 30s, Terada finally felt ready to act on a decade-old goal of opening a music school. He hung his shingle as Four Strings Ukulele Studio and used his stage name, Dr. Trey (a joking play on rapper Dr. Dre's name; the joke stuck.)

One of Terada's learning techniques included recording his students in the studio to give them the full experience of hearing themselves. He invited Shimabukuro to record with the students to enhance the illusion of being professional.

"Jake wanted his band at the time, Pure Heart, to come in with him. When I heard them, I was blown away. They filled a niche in the Hawaiian music genre that had been empty since the Ka`au Crater Boys broke up. I thought they were so amazing, I decided I would represent them. That's when Four Strings became a record label," recaps Terada.

This collaboration earned Pure Heart a Na Hoku Hanohano Award in 1999 for Best Album of the Year; Terada was listed as Pure Heart's producer. He's also recorded two albums and toured with singer/ songwriter Mailani.

"I'll never forget that experience. Girls ran up to me after the shows and just wanted to touch my hand! I'd seen that when I toured with Jake, but I never thought that'd be me! What a trip!" he laughs.

For colleagues watching his career, Terada's turn as a producer and teacher was expected. "Trey went exactly where we thought he would go: to become instrumental in other people's lives," Kanae had predicted.

It was a surprise for me to learn Terada doesn't actually like to perform. "It makes me nervous!" he admits. "I will still do it on occasion with singer/ songwriter Johnny Helm, but my focus now is on teaching."

Helm says he's flattered by the revelation. "Trey adds a level of energy that's infectious when he plays. He turns heads with all his positive energy. But what I think makes him so special is how he's taken his skills and taught others to play. I'm inspired by that."

Trey Terada and Kanile`a GM Joe Souza

Trey Terada and Kanile`a GM Joe Souza

Terada hopes to write an instructional book on how to play ukulele, and he continues a years-long partnership with Kanile`a Ukulele in Kaneohe to represent its brand.

"I wanted to sponsor Trey because he's undeniably a master. He's dynamic when he plays, and his students become dynamic," says general manager and owner Joe Souza. "I've known him for a long time, and he's honest, professional, and sincere. I like that his philosophy and ours line up: to spread aloha through music. Trey is the epitome of that."

Teaching, though, remains Terada's passion. He says, "While I love spreading the joy of ukulele to anybody, I really love teaching children. When I see that 'aha' moment when kids get it, I think, Wow, that's something special. That could change the world."

Dr. Trey can be reached at or at (808) 721-7248. Facebook: doctortreymusic. Twitter @doctrey.

Watch some snippets of Terada at:

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YouTube Direkt

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YouTube Direkt


August 10th, 2015

The day has come when my daughter was formally rejected from something she wanted to be a part of and was cognizant of it. Sure, she's been "regretted" (the politically correct term when you don't get in at some elite private schools) from some school applications, but she didn't know or care.

She has also been in tiffs with cliques at school which have hurt her feelings, but this is the first time she was officially declined acceptance to a group. Olivia was auditioning for a dance troupe and didn't make the cut.

We weren't even really sure she was that interested because her attention ebbs and flows, but I think it's the idea of someone else not choosing you. It's one thing if you decide you don't want to join the club, but it's another if they say they don't want you.

After two weeks of auditions, the teacher sent home a very nicely worded letter which follows a time-honored template of saying all the nice stuff about your kid first, then gently delivering the blow. As parents, we understand, and we aren't all that surprised because she seemed so ambivalent about it all.

Therefore, it caught me by surprise when we updated Olivia on the status of her auditions, and she started crying. And then my heart kind of broke.

Hugging sad people.

Hugging sad people.

I'm sure every parent's been through it. You want to protect your child from every hurt the world will bring and you can't. You feel helpless.

But we can't do it all for her. We can't make her pay attention in dance class. We can't force her to be consistently interested or cooperative.

We've tried. We constantly remind her she needs to do this or that to progress.

She hasn't. This is the natural consequence of her inability to focus.

I'm disappointed for her. But, I sucked it up and put on a positive face and hugged her.

I told her rejection is a part of life and if she really wants to succeed in the next activity, she needs to pay more attention to directions in class.

You may be wondering if persevering with next year's tryouts could be part of the teachable moment. No.

They actually disinvited her from trying again next year due to where it appears she is in her progress. This, we didn't tell her. We weren't sure how to navigate that, but the problem was solved when Olivia told us she was ready to be done with this club.

She's naturally athletic and seemed to do well when she applied herself, so I told her I know she can do whatever she sets her mind to. We said we believe in her.

I also told her I've been rejected a bunch of times from a bunch of things, and I just picked myself up and kept going until I got the result I wanted. When I was applying for my first few TV jobs, I was rejected at least five dozen times.

I saved all my rejection letters from those early years. The stack is about one inch thick. I labeled it Humility Check.

TV can be a tough business. Let me tell you about major rejection.

I had secured a meeting with a Hawaii news director (no longer working in Hawaii TV) to look at my resume. There was no job available, but I was trying to establish a connection and hopefully have him keep me in mind for any future openings.

After looking at my reel, he asked, "Where did you go to college?"

I answered. "You should get a refund," he flatly stated.

No joke, no exaggeration. This is exactly how the conversation went. I still remember it like it was last week.

I was flabbergasted. I have never had anyone before, or since, be that rude.

I conducted the rest of the meeting as if the remark didn't hurt me, and then decided he could __ himself.  I was not going to cry over that. I certainly wasn't going to curl up in a ball and quit because one guy said something mean.

I knew what I had to offer and I decided I would work hard and develop that for another station to appreciate. Which did, eventually, happen.

I didn't tell all that boring stuff to my kid, though. Maybe in another decade, when she's ready. What I did tell her, though, was:

"If Mommy gave up after the first dozen stations said no, she wouldn't be doing what she does today, which is a job she likes and has worked hard to be competent at. If there's something you really want, you need to work for it and you need to believe in yourself."

She is smart, beautiful, athletic, funny, and charming (when she wants to be!). We reminded her of this and said we'd always be in her corner, happy to guide her and help her succeed.

Olivia seemed to perk up a little with that. A bowl of ice cream with sprinkles probably did way more for her mood than my little pep talk, though. ... To be fair, I can totally relate!

How would you, or have you, handled your child's disappointment from rejection?

KHON2's Jai Cunningham shares strength, inspiration after overcoming difficult youth

July 10th, 2015

His earliest memory is of crimson drops of blood staining a crisp, white carpet.

Drip, drip, drip - they were falling pretty fast. She was bleeding quite a bit from a gash her husband had delivered to her eye, cutting the lid open.

"I was about three, and I still remember it vividly," recalls my friend Jai Cunningham, tears moistening his eyes at the thought, now more than 40 years later.

His mother had suffered another domestic violence episode, and had carried her two boys, ages four and two, a mile away to seek refuge at her mother's house.

He tells me about his traumatic childhood of violence and terror, living with a father who beat him, his mother Linda, and his brother Jason regularly.

"When he hit us, it was very one-sided. My father was six foot two, 220 pounds. My mother was a full foot shorter, and 110 pounds," he illustrates.

The memories pour out fast like the blood droplets. He tells me about the time his mother slept in her car overnight after a heated argument, but woke up the next morning to the feeling of cold metal on her forehead.

Tap-tap-tap. She opened her eyes. It was Jack Cunningham, holding a gun to her head.

Tired in her soul, she was, says Jai. Tired of living this life.

"Just do it, Jack. Just shoot me," she said wearily.

Then there were the weekend benders. The Cunninghams lived in a dry county in Centre, Alabama. Jack'd have to drive over county lines to stock up on his weekend libations.

"He'd leave Friday, buy four or five cases of beer, and party through the weekend - two days without sleeping," recalls Jai.

At this point, Jack and Linda were divorced, but Jack still wanted to see his kids on the weekend. Jai says often, his father would drive straight to a friend's house to play cards, leaving the boys in the truck cab all alone.

"I don't remember how long he left us because I was young, maybe five, but I remember huddling up with Jason during the winter because we didn't have coats," he says of those weekends. Winter temperatures in Alabama get into the 30s.

Jack also had a short fuse. He beat the boys.

Jai recounts too many whippings to remember. "Me, with the belt. I had it easy. Jason got the belt buckle. Those weekends could feel pretty long."

Those weekend visits would end shortly thereafter.

"Violence folds in with neglect, and because my dad would stay up Friday and Saturday drinking, he'd crash by Sunday morning. Usually it was around 2 a.m., and he'd fall asleep hard on the sofa. My brother and I had to look for food; we would be hungry," he says.

"I had fallen asleep, and Jason was scavenging through the cupboards. He found my dad's loaded 22 caliber and tried to imitate the cowboys on TV, so he pointed the pistol and tried to pull the trigger, but his index fingers were too weak. So he turned the gun to face himself and used his thumb to pull the trigger," explains Jai.

Jason was about two years old and shot himself in the abdomen. The bullet went over his stomach, hit his pancreas, and exited out his back, a quarter inch from his spine. Doctors thought the toddler would die.

The tears fall easily now as he recounts the horror. Somehow, Jason didn't bleed to death.

Jason tried to wake up Jack, but couldn't, so the boy laid on the floor and took a nap. Then he woke up again and shook Jack a second time, and this time Jack woke up.

I only remember my dad yelling, "'Jai! Get up!' I saw my brother lying on the bed and with every beat of his heart, blood gurgled out his stomach. 'I shot myself,' Jason said."

The freezing cold car - the panic - the emergency room. Jason spent weeks in the hospital, arms and legs black and blue from shots given to keep him alive.

"I didn't speak for six weeks," Jai reveals of the shock that followed.

The boys didn't see much of Jack after that. Jai isn't sure what happened, but it was a relief.

Perhaps two years later, when Jai was six, Jack died, killing himself and injuring three. Jai says his father got behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated.

"We were vacationing in Hawaii, in fact, when we got the news. My mother told us we wouldn't be going back early for the funeral. It was like, 'OK,'" he says indifferently.

Di & Jai in the studio, June 2015.

Di & Jai in the studio, June 2015.

This is a man I've been acquainted with for nearly 20 years, but have worked with and come to know better only over the past year. He is smart, friendly, funny, sweet, and positive.

I'm very fond of him, and admire him moreso after knowing his personal drama. I don't understand how he survives so well.

"My mom," he replies without hesitation. "She is a tough lady. Remember, she divorced him in the early '70s in rural Alabama, when that just wasn't done. She was brave. We struggled, but we survived. She was there for us every day."

Linda made sure Jai went to college and made something of himself. He says he's close to his mother today.

Of his father, whom he refers to as Jack, "I don't remember him telling me 'I love you.' And I only have one nice memory, of him being happy and picking my mother up in a bear hug and her feet being a foot off the ground."

About five years ago, Jai was invited to speak at the Men's March Against Violence event, which features a short walk and rally in support of non-violence. He had never spoken publicly about his childhood before, but decided maybe it was time. After securing his mother's approval, he shared his story with the crowd, to widespread support.

"Jai is an exquisite juxtaposition of the fact that men who grew up with violence are six times more likely to become abusers. His courage to share his story and suffer the searing pain publicly is power enough for us to understand it is possible," says Nancy Kreidman, CEO of the Domestic Violence Action Center, which organizes the march. "But much more is needed. Not everyone grows up with a violent parent. And not everyone can overcome the suffering, and the sadness. The may imitate what they see. They may use drugs or alcohol to numb their pain. They may have difficulty with intimate relationships as adults. They may have adverse health effects. All of these coping mechanisms impact our community."

It awakened something in Jai. "I want people to know how destructive it is. Forty years later, my strongest memories of my father are of him beating us. The violence, for me, stopped - but really, it never stops. It affects my relationship with others, it paints who I am," he says.

Kreidman applauds his efforts. "Domestic violence does not discriminate. We teach boys and men it is their duty and their right to be in charge, take control of their circumstances and their family. Our definitions of masculinity and femininity are limiting for both men and women, and contribute to the perpetuation of domestic violence. With Jai’s message of promise and conviction, we can see that change is possible."

He didn't stop speaking out against domestic violence. In 2013, Jai, a news anchor, shaved his head live on KHON2's Wake Up 2day, a statement he pledged to make for a full year, every time a woman or child was killed by domestic violence. He ended up shaving his head seven or eight times on air.

The first time, it was for his friend, Heather Rosa, killed on October 29, 2013. "Heather was kind, she had a beautiful smile, she loved her kids and all our kids. Yet a large part of her legacy will be that she was a murder victim. She doesn't deserve to be remembered like that," says Jai.

While Jai hoped to inspire change in others, he wasn't prepared for the change it provoked in himself - "the emotions I could feel for a complete stranger."

"The work to address domestic violence is still an enormous challenge. The need to dispel persistent misconceptions remains. And the imperative to engage our community to reduce, or better yet, prevent domestic violence is essential. Why? Because safe families are at the core of a healthy community," urges Kreidman.

If he can affect just one life, he says, it's worth his effort. He says this as he struggles daily with his own demons of a life that might have been even better lived, of a father whose bruises still hurt, of relationships fractured.

"Do you love your dad?" I ask.

A long pause. "No."

"Do you forgive him?" I continue.

Contemplation. "Yes. But I still think about it in some way, every day. It's always there. A little dark spot."

Today, Jai says his pain fuels his desire to keep speaking at events that support survivors of domestic violence. "It's incredibly rewarding and emotional for me when people approach me to say I've made a difference in their lives; that my words could help someone live better."

He has a beautiful wife, Carla, and two school-aged girls, 13-year-old Cara and 11-year-old Chay, and is involved in the kids' activities: cheerleading, track, volleyball, gymnastics.

His family, he says, is what he's most grateful for. "I am lucky to have my beautiful and loving family, but I appreciate it even more when I think about where I came from. I'm proud to say the cycle of violence ends with me."

If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence, help is available. Contact the Domestic Violence Action Center at (808) 531-3771 or; more details at



from Nancy Kreidman

The transformative journey from victim to survivor is an effortful undertaking, and worth considering.

We want you to think about your safety. We want you to know, also, that you have the right to live free from abuse and nothing you have done warrants abuse.

You do not deserve to be treated with anything less than respect for your opinions, choices, decisions. No one wants to think of themselves as a victim, and it is common to believe there is something you can do to change the situation or support your partner.

You likely assume promises to change will come true. There is also the tendency to minimize the abuse, or rationalize your partner’s behavior ("I could have been home on time, I should have known he was tired, the kids should have been quiet," etc).

Violence and abuse is the responsibility of the person who uses it. If you had been able to make it stop, or change him, you would have!

Making the first phone call is an important step. Collect information, ask questions, consider the options, gain an understanding of domestic violence.

Your safety is the most crucial thing to consider. Your children's safety and their well-being are also key.

It is difficult to be a good parent when threats, intimidation, and fear characterize your home. When you decide to call a domestic violence program, you can call anonymously. Be sure to ask for help in creating a safety plan.

It is a big step, but there is plenty of help from good community programs committed to helping you make good decisions, regain your self-respect, and live free from violence. Call us at the Domestic Violence Action Center at (808) 531-3771.

Alternate universe

July 6th, 2015

The other day, I was asked to work a day shift as a reporter. I looked forward to it.

It was really weird, though. In my business, the schedules are built around the shows, so you have morning shifters like me, and I work a 4 a.m. - noon. You have day shifters who do 10 - 6, and night shifters who do 3 -11 p.m.

I felt like I was in an alternate universe because the landscape was the same but the players were different. Who are these folks I never see at 8 a.m., in the newsroom after my morning show?

Crystal, Bridgette, Tasha, Terri

Crystal, Bridgette, Tasha, Terri

A group of us was chatting around the food counter after an ice cream break (I do love this place!) and I had to ask about some of the names they were talking about.

15-7-15 DI Lanai upper

Then, I walk into the studio to introduce my story on-air to the anchor and it's even more different. Do you realize the set lights are red in the morning and blue at night? It's a subtle difference on TV but in real life, I felt like I was in a whole different station.


Sidebar: I did a story on how Lanai businesses need your help, and I am sympathetic. Go, if you have the wherewithal. The interconnectedness of life extends economically and we are all impacted in some way by a ripple effect. (Click here to watch.)

Lanai gfx

I never get to see the evening anchors Joe, Howard, Marisa, and Kanoe all at the same time, and not at a station Christmas party!

By now I'm getting loopy from my body clock being thrown off so it started to feel like an out-of-body experience. Pleasant, but where am I?

I really liked connecting with co-workers in a different day part. I just wish I was more present to enjoy it!

This ever happen to you??




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