August 2012 Newsletter

The August 2012 issue of The Lana’i Connection is online! Browse our blog for individual articles, or if you prefer, download the PDF file for the 12-page newsletter to view online or print.

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Making a Difference: Dr. Derek Vergara

We know how special it is to be a Son or Daughter of Lanai is to be in an exclusive group – by family ties or association.  All accomplishments, success and good fortune by any Lanaian is received with pride and aloha.  Here is another spotlight on one of our extended family members, Dr. Derek Vergara.

Derek, is the son of Elipido “Pete” and   Juanita “Nita” (Remiticado) Vergara.  Both Pete and Nita were born and raised on Lanai.  When it came time for them to raise a family, they made the decision that many have made to move to the States to seek more opportunity.  Eventually, the Vergaras set their roots in Torrance, California, and were blessed with their four wonderful sons – Derek, Glen, Robin, and Wayne.

As the third oldest, Derek  began his educational journey by earning a Bachelors and a Masters Degree at Azusa Pacific University, then his Doctorate in Education at the University of LaVerne.  During his course of study, Derek identified what would become his lifelong calling in Social Work and in College Student Development.

Throughout his studies, Derek would take on positions that would strengthen his understanding and practice his goal of guiding and assisting his charges through what can often be a daunting higher education system.  He recognized that college is a life-changing period for many students and he undertook to guide many in an often daunting process. Derek has helped to enrich many students’ lives to understand the importance of getting involved and staying on course.

Derek has worked in numerous positions in higher education institutions including his aforementioned alma maters, and at the University of California-Irvine, at Pepperdine University, and currently at the Concordia University, in Irvine, where he is an Associate Vice President of Student Affairs/Assistant to the President for Campus Diversity Initiatives.

All of his experience has lead up to his current position which focuses on student development, both individually and within the community.  His broad background includes work from a Resident Director to a Director of Housing and Residential Life to a Dean of Students.  Derek has organized and/or overseen Student Counseling and Testing Centers at each stop.  In addition, his resume is heavily dotted with examples of his involvement with students who, without his caring hand, would easily fall into the category of “most -at-risk-to-fail” whether it be first-generation college students, ethnic minorities, or socio-economically underserved populations to access of services and programs or with student-athletes who may be affected without Derek’s tireless work with Title IX (equal opportunity for women in sports) compliance.

The overwhelming common thread of kokua and compassion has been Derek’s focus in helping students to assimilate, to get involved with school and the community, and to learn the art of networking.

Derek’s work is built on caring for his students inspired in turn by his own parent’s emphasis on higher education.   He says,  “What I would like emphasized is my parent’s unwavering support for my education throughout my entire life. While I recognize their limitations in completely understanding how to navigate and guide me through my college journey, they were always supportive and encouraging to me. There is much to be said of the extremely hard work of my parents, who were two laborers that worked in the pineapple fields of Lana’i and moved to the Mainland to ensure more opportunities for their family. Much of my life accomplishments, especially my ability to obtain my doctorate degree, are due to my parent’s unconditional love and support.”

The LACA ‘ohana applauds Dr. Derek Vergara who has made his family proud.  Derek and his wife, Michelle, are the proud parents of a son, 14-year old Jared, in whom they instill the strong value of ohana that has been passed down through generations of family, both blood and through community.

Indeed the work ethic of many Lanaians is exemplified in the many generations who have continued on to higher education despite their family’s humble beginnings in the pineapple fields of Lana’i.  Kudos to all Lanaians who strive towards higher education!


Note from Donna Ching, Treasurer

I would like to ask all to help us with our LACA savings as we survive only on new Life Memberships to LACA, e-Subscribers, and contributions.

Reach out to all who may be interested in becoming a member.  Sign up forms can be found on the Internet at

Become an e-Subscriber.  Help us save printing and postage costs, sign up online at to receive an e-mail notification when the newsletter is published online.

Please kindly help support our newsletter expenses which costs us about $1,600 each mail out (February and August articles).  As you may have noticed we cut one of our newsletters which used to be 3 times a year.  Also thank you to all the volunteers who turn out to help with the mail out. Mahalo and Aloha!

Mrs. Soledad “Sue” Obado

Kudos to 2012 Lana’i  Outstanding Older American Nominee: 

Mrs. Soledad “Sue” Obado

On May 08, 2012, Mrs. Soledad “Sue” Obado had the pleasure of representing the island of Lana’i at the 44th Annual Maui County, 2012 Outstanding Older American Awards Recognition Luncheon held at The Maui Tropical Plantation.

This special event is put on by Maui County as a competition for nominees from the tri-island county for individuals who have done outstanding volunteer community work.

Sue makes volunteering a full time job.  She manages the Lana’i Food Pantry as well as cheerfully visits and transports many of Lanai’s homebound to medical appointments.  She is also an active member of the Sacred Heart’s Church doing multiple responsibilities which span decades of dedication and statewide recognition for her volunteerism.

Mahalo Sue for your dedication and aloha in all your good works!

A Call for Lokahi

“E ala!  E alu!  E kuilima!” 

An ‘olelo noeau, a Hawaiian proverb that calls all to come together to tackle a given task.  It translates as: “Up! Together! Join hands!”

No one person or group can do it all by themselves.  Any successful community-based event or effort requires ‘ho’olaulima’ or the working together of all folks.  It is all the working hands that will make a difference in the longevity and continuity of any annual event and/or special occasions.

In the spirit of lokahi, the Lana’i Alumni and Community Association (LACA) board of directors is calling out to its membership and interested non-members, to all who love or live(d) on Lana’i to come forward and be a part of the LACA – to join hands as members and/or partners in its present and future activities.

Recall the early days of LACA – the excitement in reuniting and bonding with school friends and family! Even as the years go quickly by, it is still refreshing to connect again with classmates, neighbors and family.  We cheer those LHS classes who connect to LACA.  We hope more future class (and family) reunions will be at a LACA event.  We praise the Lana’i families who continue to attend and to make it a family tradition!

The board of directors acknowledges there has been a slow decline in participation over the past five-plus years in the annual Vegas LACA dinner and in the annual LACA membership social on O’ahu.  Some factors for the decline include the following:


  • Aging and ua hala (passing) of early founding members.
  • Disinterest or inability to attend functions.
  • Events have become predictable.
  • Economic down turn has affected many folks ability to travel.


What are the next steps to re-ignite more participation and interest in LACA?  How do we attract the younger generations to come be a part of the events, make it fun and meaningful for your classmates and family to join in?  This is a critical cross point for LACA as the next generation is needed to transition as members and to the board of directors.

Please tell us!  Your comments and mana’o (thoughts) are truly wanted to make the LACA events more meaningful and fun for all members, alumni, and Lanaians.  Send your suggestions to


Donna Reyes Ching, Jacob & Rosita Hueu with great-grandson, and Marge Asato

Under the auspices of the Maui Lana’i Connection, a network of Lana’i Alumni Community Association comprised of members with dual memberships, the reunion on Maui May 25 to May 27 was extremely successful & enjoyed by everyone!

The Ad Hoc Reunion Committee was spearheaded by General Chairman: Nani Kwon Watanabe, Treasurer: Dot Mapano Tan, Secretary: Amy Ruidas, Golf Chairs: Bill Ruidas, Sonny Dalde.

Our LACA/Maui Lana’i Connection Organizing Committee wishes to extend our most heartfelt appreciation and huge “Thank You” to those who generously donated to the Lana’i Alumni Reunion which was held over the Memorial Day Weekend on Maui.  Your Aloha Spirit made our three day event a special time as well as a HUGE success.  It was a weekend of nostalgic reminiscing and remembering growing up in the old Plantation days.  Our program was filled with awesome homegrown Lana’i talent!!!  Everyone spoke with appreciation on how special Lana’i meant and continues to be a special place.

Mahalo to the following for their generous donations:

The Trilogy

The Expeditions

Mr. Pedro “Pedring” Dugay

The Tropical Plantation

Ms. Gerry Janowski

Mr. Bob Hobdy

Mr. Dennis Shiroma

Mr. & Mrs. Jacob Hueu

Mr. & Mrs. Francis Goshi

Mrs. Soledad Obado

Mr. Henry Dulan

Mr. Gilbert Emata

Mr. Hollis Lee

Mr. Joe Recamara

Ms. Marian Recouperto Ching

Mr. Ale Arao

Mr. & Mrs. Douglas Obado

Surprise Luau for Roy Cadiente – Tear Eyes, SURPRISE

Roy, Sally, Son Darryl, Sister In-Law Laura, Nephew Donovan,
Grandson Logan, Son Tim & Niece Diana… Cadientes

Very, Very SURPRISE!!!!!!! With all the loud cheers, clapping & Happy Birthday singing of 250 friends & families there wasn’t any dry eyes in the place.

The luau was for Roy Cadiente’s 71st birthday, 50 years anniversary of teaching karate & semi-retired.  All in one bang of a celebration!

Took my sons and I 5 months of planning with friends & his students… It turned out beautiful…

Love, Aunty Sally

Board Meeting

Photos taken at a board meeting held on August 8, 2012

Name of members in pictures:

Donna Reyes Ching, Elaine Yockman Masterman (visiting from Washington State), Coochie Cayan, Gloria Obado Reyes, Suzanne Damian, Monica Cocket, Randy Sanches. Pictures taken by David Cornwell, photographer at request from Mr. Robert “Bob” Kinoshita.