HONOLULU (KHON2) — Food, activity, entertainment and much more are what attract tens of thousands to Kamehameha Schools’ (KS) Ho’olaule’a every year.
People attended virtually in 2021, however.
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Mervyln “Aunty Merv” Kitashima serves as an advisor. She is one of many who made the event possible, which is what she has been doing for more than four decades as a former employee and as a mother.
“As a parent, I’m sure I did the popcorn and snacks booth, and Hawaiian plates and Korean plates and country store and silent auction and entertainment,” Aunty Merv said.
All seven of her grandchildren graduated from Kamehameha Schools.
“I have said I owe Kamehameha my life so if I work 24-7 for the rest of my life, I would still be in debt,” she said. “I came from a different background, from Kauai, so I was a boarder at KS, and everything I learned, my values, came from my family and came from being there as a student.”
She even met her husband there when they were teenagers. They have been together for almost 50 years. Aunty Merv said, she is proud to be referred to as kupuna.
“But we get 10% off here and 10% off there, but more importantly I’ve come to a point in my life where I’ve learned to enjoy.”
She is heavily involved with her church and helping out with her grandchildren in addition to giving back to the school. Eight out of 20 of her grandchildren have graduated or are attending Kamehameha.
She continued to help out with the annual tradition through it all.
“And it was amazing, we brought up 10- to 12,000 people in one day and we bussed them up and down that hill,” she said.
Juggling those responsibilities, other activities, work and seven children was not easy.
“Because there are days when I said ‘I’d quit, I’m not going to be anybody’s mom anymore because this is way too hard,’ but you regroup every night you go to bed, you wake up and it’s a new day,” she said.
Following that mantra has always helped her — as well as having a positive attitude.
“It’s a new day and we can do one, two, three good things every day, I believe that, totally,” Aunty Merv said.