JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Six-year-old Brandzi Kahale walked around in her mother Dorie-Ann's bathroom Tuesday. The Kahales lived in a shelter in Kalaeloa for five months before moving to Kahala. CLICK FOR LARGE
Neighbors offer family warm welcome
THE KAHALE FAMILY
Dorie-Ann Kahale, mother of six, looks forward to the day when she can take a relaxing bath in the beautiful porcelain tub upstairs.
But besides being a mom, Kahale has been too busy fielding media inquiries, ranging from ABC's "Nightline" to Oprah Winfrey's scouting team, to do so yet. She hasn't even had time to go to the beach across the street.
Nonetheless, since moving into the colonial-style home at 4398 Kahala Ave., life is less stressful, she says.
And so far, despite all the controversy surrounding Genshiro Kawamoto, the neighbors have been lovely, she said.
She was nervous about how the neighborhood would receive her, but they have come by to welcome her, invited her to barbecues, brought Easter gift baskets, even offered extra furniture.
"They're awesome," Kahale said.
She received an invitation to join the Kahala Community Association, and says she plans to.
"I am going to join them," she said. "The reason I want to do that is to let them know who I am."
Kahale now has stuffed animals on the living-room sofa and baby photos on the wall. Her daughters have picked out their rooms.
The yard has been cleared of overgrowth and planted with palm trees, with the help of family. Eventually, Kahale would like to put grass over the filled-in swimming pool and then maybe a trampoline for the kids.
For all of this, she's grateful to have met Kawamoto.
"He's my new oto-san, my new father," Kahale said. "He's also like a hanai grandfather to my children. We're under his umbrella."
Kahale, a Kailua High School graduate who grew up in Waimanalo, was sharing one bedroom at a shelter in Kalaeloa with her five daughters, ages 7 to 20, for the last five months prior to moving to Kahala.
She also has one son, who has his own family and lives in Pearl City.
She works full-time as a customer service representative for Pacific Lightnet Corp. in Hawaii Kai.
"It was tough," she said of life in the shelter. "But I was one step ahead of the game and I had so many responsibilities before moving in there."
Prior to the shelter, the family had camped out on the beach at Nanakuli Flats for about one month. Kahale said they moved to the shelter because they were being kicked off the beach.
That was probably the lowest point in her life.
But she believes in taking chances. So when she heard of Kawamoto's offer, she wrote him a letter in November, explaining that she was a working, single mother.
An active member of Lanakila Church in Kaimuki, she said the move to Kahala will make it easier for her to participate.
At the same time, Kahale says she's kept in touch with the shelter because "I could never forget where I came from."
She hasn't seen her first electricity bill yet, but she's still in shock that the four-bedroom, 4- 1/2 bath home is rent-free.
Kahale said she hadn't signed any paperwork, and trusts Kawamoto will stay true to his word.
"I could never call anywhere a home," said Kahale, referring to the shelter and beach. She said living in Kahala had always been a dream for her, but one that was out of reach.
Now it's a dream that has come true.