Ohana Makamae Staff:
Cynthia Santiago MPA, CSAC (Certified Substance Abuse Counselor) – Executive Director
Being in Hāna, East Maui and working at `Ohana Makamae is highly enriching. I am honored to be working here, to the best of my ability, facing some significant challenges, and experiencing great breakthroughs and a mountain of rewards. This can only be accomplished with the great support of our skilled and caring staff, our truly dedicated Board and a supportive community. Being in the Social Services field is about promoting wellness. `Ohana Makamae’s services work towards creating open doors, reconciliation, hope, renewal, and so much more. I have served for over 20 years in this field, most of which has been in management. I believe the core of all that exists has to do with the spirit that we do it in. A healthy spiritual walk is a lifestyle that directs and deepens all aspects of wellness; it is the place where hope lives, and faith is restored… and where change necessarily happens.
Milton-Gerard Oliveira – Sober Living House Manager
My name is Gerardi Oliveira, I work for `Ohana Makamae because I am a grateful, recovering addict who has OMI to thank for my recovery and my life that I now share with my wife and children. I owe a lot to our substance abuse program for giving me the help I so desperately needed in my times of trials and tribulations. OMI helped me get clean, then after a period of time I spent in prison, they offered me employment to take care of yard maintenance; later, I was offered a new opportunity as the Sober Living Manager. I was taught at a young age to help others, young or old no matter. My mother instilled this in me, and I thank her for that today. OMI is Hāna’s only family resource center that offers substance abuse and mental health counseling along with other various programs. I am very fortunate to run the only sober living house in Hāna. My way to give back to our little community that is troubled by a lot of substance abuse and alcohol abuse is to help others so that they might change and live a new life for their good and the good of their family. We do recover! You got to want it! Stay clean, and reap the benefits. I enjoy work everyday because being around other people in recovery helps me to remember my own recovery.
Hailama Akoi – Technical Assistant
Impacting the lives of others is what matters to me most of all. I am very grateful to be working for ʻOhana Makamae. Seeing all the lives that have been transformed and turned around, brings me a sense of accomplishment. Working at `Ohana Makamae has given me a greater passion and desire in helping people. Whether it’s working with clients or doing behind the scenes work, the staff at ‘Ohana Makamae services the people of East Maui whole heartily.
James Dyment – Lead Substance Abuse Counselor
There really isn’t one reason I work at `Ohana Makamae; it was a blessing that I humbly accepted. I wanted to give back to my community and help combat the struggle of addiction that affects the local community. Also, helping other addicts helps me with my own recovery. I reach my hand out to those struggling with substance abuse disorder, and I hope that they will take hold and see the new life in sobriety. This job teaches me to be humble and very understanding; it also teaches me to live with an attitude of gratitude in all aspects of my life.
Christine Oliveira – Executive Assistant/ Bookkeeper
`Ohana Makamae; is so meaningful for the communities of East Maui. `Ohana Makamae means precious family. There is a feeling you get when you’re around people who love and care about you. We are here as one family that comes together to help others who are in need in the local community. No matter who you are, everyone needs a helping hand from time to time. We are here if you need someone to talk to, to connect you with community resources, and we provide our services with the utmost confidentiality. The natural feeling you get from a family is Aloha (love). If you ever feel alone or feel like others don’t care, we care! We love you! We are here to help.
Brien Benjamin MA – Mental Health Counselor
My intention is to be of service to anyone that wants to heal, grow, and learn. The resources I offer come from a wide array of experience I’ve gained from growing up in beautiful Boulder Colorado, Cornell University’s undergraduate Psychology department and Naropa University’s Transpersonal Psychology – Wilderness Therapy program. Mindfulness, positive self-outlook, nonviolent communication, healthy grieving, and helping people understand the nervous system’s role in moving through and recovering from overwhelming life events are some of my specialties. My philosophy revolves around the concepts that we all have a natural tendency toward health and all life events present the opportunity for growth.