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.
Jana Sinenci – Keiki Makamae (KM) Program Manager/Case Manager
New changes and a fresh start are here, it is what we as individuals make of our future. If we decide to stay stagnant and dwell on the past that is where we’ll be, or we can be here in the present to imua and make a better future for ourselves. It is proven one can only be guided until THEY make their own choice and be their own change, especially in this field of work; providing family resources, case management services, substance abuse treatment programs, mental health services, family counseling, and strengthening the community of Hana is our kuliana. I firmly believe and feel in my heart that this is why OMI is so special. About 80% of us that have worked at this organization have had relevant, personal struggles. Most of us here at OMI spent a part of our lives exploring the dark side, but the light bulb went on one day due to incarceration, family hardship, or just for personal growth. Our past experiences have lead us here to serve/guide others that are seeking the light of a new life. It is an awesome feeling to have such awesome co-workers that support our clients and each other to make our small but big at heart organization thrive.
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.
Lehua Park – Adolescent Program/Substance Abuse Counselor
I believe God has called me to malama (care for) the youth during this time. I have always advocated for our future leaders; now it is time for me to plant seeds of love, joy, peace, giving, and humility. I was lost as a youth and as an adult; now that I am found, I declare every child to know their bright light that lives within themselves. I will stand for their souls to have a home and their spirits to be free. I will assist in enhancing our youth into their perfectness, which each one was made to be. Most of all, I will love them faithfully, whether through tough love or hugs because LOVE conquers ALL things.
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.
Tanya Helekahi – Executive Assistant
Since I moved here in 2009, I have been blessed to find employment with OMI almost right away. I adore the team of individuals I work with; they are so dedicated to the well-being of our clients. I’m happy to work for a place that does so much for the community. The ultimate fulfillment is seeing individuals succeed in sobriety; saying, “Our organization changes lives” would be an understatement. I believe when someone can be their true self and shine their light, they change the world. So thank you ‘Ohana Makamae for being the support you are for this community since 1999, in all the seen and unseen ways you do it.
Mark Zion BBA – Technical Assistant/Substance Abuse Counselor
When we are working together in true humility, we witness miracles. Working here encourages me to reflect on the miracle that took place in my own life through sobriety.`Ohana Makamae is a valuable community resource, creating a very positive impact in the Hāna community. I am so thankful to be part of an organization that provides crucial support for the families of Hāna. Experiencing how `Ohana Makamae is helping individuals and families gives me a great fulfillment and gratitude. Seeing how `Ohana Makamae is benefiting the community of Hāna through various programs makes me feel excited to contribute my time and energy every day; I am enthusiastic to see the bright future of this organization unfold.
Brandon Chamberlain – Program Assistant
I came to `Ohana Makamae and enrolled in the intensive outpatient program having just been released from Aloha House, a substance abuse program. Ever since, I have made a huge turn around in my life, I see things differently and think differently as well. Having become a part of the `Ohana Makamae team has helped me to maintain employment and sobriety alike. I enjoy living in Hāna; it’s a beautiful place to keep on living and staying clean. The staff at `Ohana Makamae are about the closest thing to a family I have, they help me constantly get through the tough times and are always there when I need them. I hope to remain in Hāna, stay on the path I’m on, and return the love any way I can.