The initial idea of Kamali’i Foster Family Agency (KFFA) started in 1996 as the brain child of Eric Mortensen and Lee Burton. Each person having a responsibility in building the foundation. Eric was responsible to be the writer/program developer and Lee being the designated spokesperson for the agency teaching prospective foster parent classes. Through perseverance and the efforts of many, KFFA was finally incorporated in the State of California in April 1998.
Kamali’i the Hawaiian word for “children” was a name given to the agency by its first believer and financial backer Moses Moke Manewa. Mr. Manewa retired as a Honolulu Police Officer after serving the force for 32 years spending many of his years patrolling the streets of Waipahu, Wai’anae, Pearl City, Honolulu, and many other cities on the islands of O’ahu. Mr. Manewa volunteered his time in helping the at-risk youth in Hawai’i as a mentor and coach as well as spending time with Hawai’i’s PAL and DARE programs. Mr. Manewa aka “Officer Manewa” “Pops” “Uncle Bucky” “Big Kahuna” “Moke” always had a soft spot for helping the youth in the community.
Mr. Manewa, also the father in-law to Eric was a Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian indigenous to the islands) who carried a strong sense of culture. In KFFA’s infancy stages, he made a strong impact on foster families, children and staff displaying a sense of “aloha” and what it means in the Hawaiiana culture. Mr. Manewa never harbored any judgement about someone’s background or mistakes made in the past but always displayed a sense of “kokua” (help) for all.
The Hawaiiana culture of ohana established the core foundation of KFFA’s passion to “mālama” (take care of) all “Na kamali’i o ka ‘āina” (the children of the land). Even in Mr. Manewa’s passing we at KFFA hope to continue to serve in his honor.