Yoana Amond just celebrated earning her associates' degree in special education. She earned her degree over three years of college classes, while raising the youngest of her five children and two grandchildren. Although English is not Amond's first language, she achieved her goal thanks to determination, opportunities and personal support.
As a young woman, Amond left Pohnpei, an island in Micronesia. Even though she knew very little English at the time, she was accepted into Hawaii's Job Corps to further her education.
In 1990, Amond moved into Palolo Homes, a property of the Mutual Housing Association of Hawaii. She was embraced as an active volunteer by the nonprofit's Resident Services Department. As the years passed, Amond became a regular presence in community, helping the Pohnpeian Ethnic Council, Palolo Tenants Association, food bank and other activities.
In part through her involvement with resident services, Amond became one of the leaders at Palolo Homes. She travelled with a group from Palolo Homes to the NeighborWorks America Community Leadership Institute in 2009, where she interacted with residents from other parts of the country and learned how they addressed their own challenges.
Subsequently, Amond was hired as a special education aide at a nearby elementary school. This good fortune led her to discover how much she loved working with special needs children, also inspiring her to further her education in this field.
Kapi'olani Community College has long been a supporter of the Palolo Homes community, and in 2014 Amond applied for a King William Charles Lunalilo Grant to attend the institution. Now a grandmother, she received a grant to be put toward three years of college, along with other support.
Achieving her degree was a long and arduous journey for Amond, but she is proud to say both she and her two daughters have graduated from college and are the first in their extended family to obtain degrees.
In large and small ways, the Mutual Housing resident services staff focuses on creating positive experiences for all residents on the property. Yoana Amond's success story is just one of many.