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May 2024 Newsletter: Celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Dear VOPIN Family,

Our Heritage and History:

May is a month of celebration and unity as we dedicate it to Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage. It's a time to honor the contributions, culture, and achievements of the AANHPI community and to recognize the diverse stories that unite our communities. We commemorate the pioneering spirit of early Asian immigrants, the resilience of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander ancestors, and the shared struggles and triumphs that have shaped our collective history. Our deeply intertwined roots continue to nourish our growth today and in the future.

Navigating Education Project: 

As we celebrate AANHPI Heritage Month, we want to highlight our Navigating Education Project. This project provides culturally responsive tutoring, mentoring, and social-emotional support for the students at Bremerton High School with a particular emphasis on PI students. Although each student has a unique set of challenges, our team of Navigators is working diligently to help them achieve academic and personal success. This initiative plays a crucial role in guiding students toward their goals. However, there are still many challenges that we face in achieving student success, many of which are beyond our control.

Celebrate with Us by:

Educating Yourself and Others: Expand your knowledge of AANHPI cultures by reading books, watching documentaries, and engaging in conversations to broaden your understanding and appreciation. 'The harder you work for something, the greater you'll feel when you achieve it (Success).'

Volunteering: 'The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.' (Picasso) Engaging in volunteer work can lead to personal growth and development. It provides opportunities to learn new skills, gain experience, and broaden one's perspective by interacting with people of diverse backgrounds. Please visit our website for volunteer opportunities.

Donating: 'Giving is not just about making a donation. It's about making a difference.' (Calvin)  Donating can bring a sense of personal fulfillment and satisfaction. Knowing that one's contributions are making a positive difference in the world can enhance well-being, foster a sense of purpose, and strengthen connections with others. Supporting VOPIN's cause empowers our students and communities to become successful.

This AANHPI Heritage Month, let's join hands to celebrate our histories and contributions. Let’s pledge to educate, embrace, and empower each other, not just this month but throughout the year. Your participation and support play a crucial role in our mission.

A thriving community is when people feel connected, valued, and empowered to contribute positively to the collective well-being. Thank you for being an integral part of our VOPIN family. Together, we build a more inclusive and vibrant community for everyone!

With warmest regards,

The VOPIN Team

The Navigating Education Project

Changing Lives One Student at a Time...

Taluasa "Lua" Enoka is a 17-year-old senior at Bremerton High School. Her journey to get where she earned her spot at BHS was not easy. Lua left her beloved home of Fagatogo, American Samoa, to further her education, and her aspirations landed her in Texas. However, she couldn't attend school there due to documentation-related issues. She decided to transfer to Bremerton to be closer to her family, and when Lua entered Bremerton High School as a senior, she was a year behind with credits.

Her goal to graduate on time pushed her to her limits. Her high school counselor doubled up her schedule so she could complete her 11th and 12th grade required credits to make up for the lost time in Texas. With hard work and belief in herself, and with the support of our Navigating Education (NE) team every step of the way, Lua is graduating with the BHS graduation Class of 2024! We are all incredibly proud of Lua for her achievement and conviction that "I can do this!"

As a proud Samoan and dedicated student, Lua enjoys watching K-Dramas, values her Christian faith, and cherishes her family. She first heard about Voices of Pacific Island Nations (VOPIN) through friends and quickly realized the significant impact their programs have on Pacific Islander students and beyond. “VOPIN is a very important organization and it's . . . for not only just Pacific Islanders but also for other students,” Lua shares.

VOPIN has been instrumental in helping Lua stay on track with her schoolwork. “They provide and also helped me with getting back on track with my schoolwork,” she says.

Moreover, VOPIN offers support beyond academics, providing a space for cultural learning and personal advice. “They have helped me with problems outside of school. They give me advice, and they will help me with even schoolwork,” Lua explains.

Lua emphasizes the importance of having more Islander teachers and programs in schools to support Pacific Islander students. “I feel like it would help a lot with the students that often feel like they're more interactive with the people of their own kind,” she notes. VOPIN's inclusive approach is another key aspect Lua appreciates. “They have helped other students that are not Pacific Islanders--not only Pacific Islanders but also other students of Bremerton,” she says. VOPIN provides essential services such as academic support, food, and even therapeutic advice, making it a comprehensive support system for students.

Communication remains a significant challenge for many Pacific Islander students, as English is often not their first language. Lua identifies this as an area needing improvement. “I would say the communication because English is not our first language, and sometimes we don't know certain words,” she explains.

Looking forward, Lua encourages her fellow students to engage with VOPIN. “I would say to bring more students because I feel like there are students that are islanders, and they're shy to come inside the program. I feel like this is an important community for them and an environment that helps them a lot with everything.”

After graduating, Lua plans to move to Utah and work. She is open to wherever life takes her, guided by her faith: “Wherever God takes me, I'll go.” Lua Enoka's journey and experiences highlight the essential role of VOPIN in supporting Pacific Islander students academically, culturally, and personally. Her story is a testament to the positive impact of community-focused, culturally responsive educational programs.

 A Role Model and A Remarkable Leader

We proudly announce that Aniya Clark, a Junior at BHS, has been recognized by Princeton University for her outstanding work in 'Race Relations.' This recognition is a testament to her hard work and dedication. Aniya also attends Olympic College in the Running Start Program and is an intern with VOPIN's Navigating Education (NE) Project. 

The Coolidge Scholarship, in recognition of Aniya's hard work, wrote:'Perhaps you know that Calvin Coolidge, whose memory and values our Foundation serves, greatly respected all who supported the education of youth. Speaking to educators in 1924, President Coolidge said: “Those who mold the human mind have wrought not for time, but for eternity.” Educators, Coolidge continued, “are entitled not only to adequate rewards for their service, but to the veneration and honor of a grateful people.' This prestigious recognition underscores the profound impact of Aniya's dedication and hard work.

Aniya is very responsible and devotes her spare time to tutoring her peers. She is also involved in multiple student clubs and activities at BHS. The Navigating Education Project staff and volunteers are proud of our rising star and exemplary leader!  

 Celebrating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

2024 BHS Multicultural Festival - Go Knights!

A spirited community is formed when individuals come together to create something greater than themselves. This makes people feel connected, valued, and empowered to contribute positively to the collective well-being. An active community not only enriches the lives of its members but also leaves a lasting impact on the world we call home!

A huge 'Fa'amalo (Shout out)' to our Navigating Education Project students, staff, and volunteers for a fantastic job during the 2024 Bremerton High School Multicultural Festival. The students, teachers, and community members came together to share their culture, arts and crafts, talents, and food (of course), which really highlighted the diversity, equity, and inclusion of the BHS community.  

A special fa'amalo to Ms. Elise Erickson and the Students of the ASB for putting together a fantastic event: 'Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to Success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful! ' (Schweitzer).   


"Community Power" embodies the collective strength, resources, and influence of individuals within a community who work together to address issues, advocate for causes, and improve their collective well-being. This power is created when individuals unite to achieve something bigger than themselves. By collaborating, individuals feel a sense of belonging, appreciation, and empowerment to contribute positively to the well-being of their community.

 Pasefika (Pacific) Language Survey

Hafa Adai, Talofa, Aloha, Malo e lelei, Kamusta na, Ran allum, Kia ora, Bula, Fakaalofa atu, Mauri, and Hello! 

The future of our community relies on our culture, arts and crafts, beliefs, and values. Losing our cultural identity is a path to culture extinguishment. To continue to preserve our cultural identity and better serve our community, we humbly request your assistance in completing this short anonymous survey. This information will help us develop programs addressing language and other barriers for our children, youth, and families.  

Take Survey

Strengthening Community Ties: VOPIN Meets with Kitsap Community Resources

Our VOPIN team recently met with Kitsap Community Resources (KCR) to explore potential partnerships to improve community services. We appreciate KCR for organizing this productive meeting and sharing valuable resources for the benefit of our community. This collaboration is an important step towards combining our efforts to support and empower the diverse groups we serve.

We are enthusiastic about the upcoming partnership and are excited about the positive impact we can achieve together.


Have you purchased your tickets yet? -- You don't want to miss out on a fantastic evening of culture, cuisine, and community. Join us for our annual fundraiser and lū'au, where you can enjoy traditional performances, mouth-watering food, and great company. Don't wait any longer. Get your tickets now and be a part of something extraordinary. Your presence and support will help VOPIN achieve its mission and make a difference in the lives of our youth and young adults. As Helen Keller once said, "Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much." 

You can click 'My Ticket' or go to We look forward to seeing you there!

My Ticket  

Invest In Your Community!

This Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’re excited to join @APCF, @AAPIData, and organizations across the country serving the #AAPI community for the #GiveInMay campaign! #AAPIHM

Please visit, share, and donate to our page here!

 You can change lives one Student at a Time!

Unleash Your Inner Hero!

You can invest in a brighter future for our youth with a $10 monthly contribution. It's not just a donation but an investment in their dreams and aspirations!

Together, we'll supercharge our Navigating Education program, igniting a fire of purpose and optimism to guide our students toward a prosperous future! As we stand together for our Pasefika students, their voices unite in gratitude: 

Fa'afetai tele, Mahalo, Si Yu'os Ma'ase, Salamat, Malo-e-lelei, Kinisou, Kinisou chapur, Whakawhetai koe.

'Thank you,' for your boundless generosity in making a monumental difference!

Embrace your inner hero and change lives today!

Be a Hero

Other ways to donate

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Reduce taxes* on capital gains while deducting the fair market value of gifted stock held more than one year.

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* Capital gains tax and NII tax rates range from 18.8% to 37.1%, depending on your income and locality. Donate through DonateStock

King County employees: Donate through the King County Employee Giving Program

Washington State employees: Donate through the Washington State Combined Drive