The smiling faces of the women you see in the above photo are of a very unique crop of production volunteers who assist ‘Ōlelo in shooting community events. These women volunteering under a special partnership between ‘Ōlelo and the Women’s Community Correctional Center (WCCC).
The women of WCCC have trained on various formats of media production and have been volunteering on ‘Ōlelo productions for nearly 10 years with no signs of slowing down. Established under the supervision of then-warden Mark Patterson, and now under the guidance of Eric Tanaka, WCCC’s partnership with ‘Ōlelo has blossomed into a priceless experience for both the women and the general community.
WCCC is the only women’s prison in Hawai’i. It serves the needs of pre-trial and sentenced female offenders. The facility houses female offenders who are of maximum, medium, and minimum custody levels. Under the direction of Recreation Specialist Larson Medina, who also happens to be an elected board member of ‘Ōlelo Community Media, WCCC participates in many community service projects for state, county agencies and non-profit organizations.
“‘Ōlelo, to us, is rehabilitative, empowering,” Medina expressed. “It creates an opportunity for the women to give back to the community.”
During a 10 year span, an estimated total of 80 women have volunteered on an array of productions including the Makahiki at Waimea Falls, the Gabby Pahinui Kanikapila, kickball tournaments, May Day events, and even the YWCA Annual LeaderLuncheon, an event that truly empowered them as women. However, the one event that these women continually praise as a “heartfelt, amazing experience” to volunteer on is Peter’s Prom, an annual prom designed for O’ahu high school students with special needs.
With the guidance of ‘Ōlelo staff, the women are trained as studio technicians, camera operators, editors, grip, and multi-camera directors. The vision for this initiative has always been a training platform for gaining job skills for the future. And the future is bright. The opportunity for media-related occupations have skyrocketed in the past 10 years.
Medina points out that the reward for these women is not only the chance to serve as a technician on a video shoot, but the chance to interact with good people; people who believe in their success and who actively contribute to their redirection.
Mahalo to the women of WCCC past, present, and future for their engagement with ‘Ōlelo and our communities.