LKOC sponsors several programs at the Women’s Community Correctional Center (WCCC) in Kailua, including the “Learning to Grow” Program.
The hydroponic lettuce grown in that program is now available at Foodland stores in Kailua, Beretania, Market City, Ala Moana, and Aina Haina! The lettuce is delivered fresh every Wednesday, and there are multiple varieties available from week to week.
Our volunteers have done a terrific job putting this program together. We hope you will support them and the women at the facility who work so hard to produce the crop from planting to harvest, by purchasing this delicious lettuce at Foodland. Proceeds go to support the program, with a portion of lettuce going to a women's shelter in Kailua.
CURRENT LKOC/WCCC PROGRAMS
LKOC currently supports two very successful projects at WCCC, the Community Service Work-Line and the "Learning to Grow" Program, with upwards of 300 inmates involved since inception. This unique partnership has provided valuable contributions to Windward O'ahu. LKOC supports these programs financially, as well as with dedicated volunteers.
Community Service Work-Line (CSWL)
Since 1999 this project has provided inmates to maintain public areas in Windward O'ahu. Initially a Work-Line of inmates was set up for Kailua Beach. The warden wanted the women to be part of the community so the areas were extended in 2000. Today these areas include: Kailua Road median, from St. John Lutheran Church to Oneawa Street, Alala Point plantings at the entrance to Lanikai, Pohakapu Fountain landscape, Kawainui Marsh and Hamakua Marsh. They also maintain the LTG grounds around the hydroponic system and garden nursery.
LKOC provides training, equipment, equipment repairs, ongoing materials, and lunches. A Harold KL Castle Foundation Grant recently provided for repurchase of weed whackers that were stolen. The Lanikai Community Association also generously donates a portion of the women’s lunch expenses each month.
The Work-Line goes out with a crew of 10 for 4 hours, 5 times a month which comes to 200-woman hours per month. Imagine paying for lunch and tools for 200 hours a month as opposed to the going rate for landscaper’s maintenance crews.
Learning to Grow (LTG)
Since 2008 LKOC has sponsored this project where inmates built and now maintain a large hydroponic system and plant nursery where they grow organic vegetables for the prison cafeteria, saving the prison $40,000 a year. Since 2016, a portion of the hydroponic lettuce grown in the program has been available at five local Foodland grocery stores on O‘ahu. The lettuce is harvested and delivered fresh every Wednesday, and there are multiple varieties available from week to week. The proceeds from the sales go to support the program.
LKOC volunteers teach inmates in hydroponics, plant maintenance and management skills. Our volunteers work side by side with the women, three times a week, providing not only hands on guidance, but a mentoring sense of camraderie and friendship as well.
In 2015, a HECO grant provided funds to restore electricity to the hydroponic system and the garden classroom (lost due to a 2015 storm).
Additionally a Harold KL Castle Foundation grant provided funds for the inmates to build a fifth hydroponic line to grow lettuce (to sell locally to help the program become self-sustaining), as well as provided funds for horticultural instructors for two sets of classes, in which the women have earned three separate certificates in horticulture, hydroponics, and how to run a small business.
The Small Business Association provided in-kind donations towards course preparation, materials and instructor. The students receive 50 cents an hour, which gives them some pocket money.
These classes and the hydroponics program give them skill sets to help them succeed after release, as well as develop a sense of confidence and accomplishment. One former inmate received an additional stipend when she showed her certificate to her new employer. Several inmates have been inspired to go back to school. Over 30 students have graduated from the newly instituted certified Hydroponics training programs, and similar numbers in the horticultural and business classes.
Today we still have committed and enthusiastic volunteers. Our aim in "Learning to Grow" is to expose our students to the joys and responsibilities of working with plants and provide them a supportive atmosphere where they learn to self –heal.
VOLUNTEER JOBS IN THE “LTG” PROGRAM
We are always looking for volunteers to participate in the LTG program at the WCCC facility. Currently we have 6 volunteer teachers who each go to the Garden 1 day a week for 2 hours, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8-10 AM. We also need volunteers to deliver lettuce to Foodland stores on Wednesday mornings, every other week. We who volunteer all consider it a privilege to do this work and enjoy it immensely. If you are interested in being a mentor gardener at the correctional facility, or helping out in any way, click here to get in touch with a coordinator. It is such rewarding work!
We will give you details about the program and how it can fit in with your schedule. It is so rewarding and interesting, and we invite you to come to visit once or twice so you can decide if you want to contribute. Before entry, you will need to provide full name, date of birth and Social Security number to the Sergeant in charge. There is also a dress code and rules about what cannot be brought into the prison, which will be discussed with guests and new volunteers.
History of the Partnership between the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle and WCCC by Margaret Brezel, past WCCC Committee Chair
In 1999, The Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle (LKOC) received a call from John Kellam, then warden of the Windward Community Correctional Center (WCCC) who told us of an abandoned nursery on the facility grounds, and how he had wanted to give the offenders horticulture classes but hadn't been able to convince DPS (Dept. of Public Safety) to do it. Carol Ann Ellett, then chairperson of LKOC's beatification committee, went to meet with the warden and then wrote the head of DPS and their Education Program Manager for six months before getting a reply. This eventually resulted in the refurbishing of the abandoned nursery by LKOC volunteers and WCCC women.
This was the start of the Environmental Sciences Vocational Training Program. A curriculum was developed so that the women would get college credits for their classes given by college faculty and accompanied by work in the renovated nursery. LKOC invested $2,000 initially and 2 grants provided the rest of the required equipment, library books, etc. The Garden Club of Honolulu provided an additional $13,000 grant. Thus began the enduring relationship of LKOC with WCCC that has been maintained for the past 18 years.
This was a 3 way partnership: LKOC would provide the tool and materials; The Department of Public Safety (DPS) through their Education Director, Maureen Tito, would pay the salary for the Teacher to teach Horticulture and Environmental Science; and WCCC would provide the Work Line to maintain LKOC's Public Plantings and the students to learn Environmental Science and Horticulture.
In addition to the faculty who would teach the women, we requested and got a staff nursery position, Juan who was a master at running a nursery.
In 2003, the WCCC class designed and landscaped the grounds of St. Christopher's Windward Senior Day Care Center. Then they went on to design and install a project at the Kailua library with a landscape artist volunteering his assistance. This was a way to give to their community and the women expended enormous energy on these projects. They also earned college credits.
This three way partnership thrived until August, 2008, when early State Budget Cuts took the funding for the Horticulture Teacher and DPS bowed out of the partnership.
Fortunately, WCCC and LKOC restructured the partnership with all volunteer LKOC teachers and WCCC gave us students from the Total Life Recovery (TLR) program, the cream of the crop.
LKOC recruited Chuck Glenn, who had been teaching Hydroponics at Windward Community College, who jumped in enthusiastically and taught our original 10 women how to build and run the Hydroponics system. Chuck was at the Garden every week for a year, volunteering his time A lifelong teacher and counselor, he said he had never had such committed and enthusiastic students. He continues as a consultant for the hydroponics system and classes today.
In those early years LKOC also started a tree planting project. Eventually a donated monkey pod tree, a half dozen shower trees and 400 hibiscus plants and irrigation system for the hibiscus were installed with assistance from the city parks department just outside the fences. The women planted the hibiscus and cared for the landscape. Today the program consists of two very successful projects at WCCC, the Community Service Work-line and the Learning to Grow Program, with upwards of 300 inmates involved since inception. This unique partnership has provided valuable contributions to Windward O'ahu.