Ka Hale ‘Ohana – Community House of the American Cancer Society
Ka Hale ‘Ohana was given to Hawai’i’s American Cancer Society in 1996 by a hui of donors motivated by two desires:
- First, these good friends wanted to free the Society from rental expenses for its state headquarters and its Honolulu patient service center. By purchasing the property for the Society, the donors permanently eliminated these recurring costs to the Society. Subsequently, an individual donor stepped forward to endow a fund for maintenance expenses of Ka Hale ‘Ohana, relieving the Society of these costs a well. Because of such kindness, monies formerly used for rent and site maintenance are directed each year to programs to reduce cancer incidence, increase cancer survival rates, and improve the quality of life for those with cancer.
- The hui also wanted to see the work of the Society carried out in a home-like setting, one that would be comfortable for volunteers and comforting to the patients they serve. By completely furnishing the property, they succeeded beautifully. Today Ka Hale ‘Ohana, centrally located and blessed by easy access and ample parking, bustles with activity. Patients come here for support groups, to have wigs fitted, and to arrange transportation to medical appointments. Volunteers train here, conduct meetings and coordinate cancer screenings. And members of the community gather here to learn about cancer prevention, detection and treatment.
Ka Hale ‘Ohana consists of two buildings on what was once a Nu’uanu taro patch. The main house was constructed for $4,000 in 1906 as the home of Arthur F. Ewart, an Englishman engaged in the sugar industry, as well as his brother George and George’s family. The Ewarts were known as a proper, reserved family that remained sympathetic to the monarchy for many years after its overthrow. By standards of the day in this area of Honolulu, their house was not extravagant.
The smaller adjacent house was built for $3,600 in 1917 to house domestic help and later housed the growing family of George Ewart’s descendants. Until 1995, four generations of Ewarts lived on the property, evolving by marriage into Cattons and Yorks.
Today, the original building is named Atherton House and the smaller building is named Watumull Cottage to honor donors whose special generosity made the buildings available to the American Cancer Society. The campus itself is named in recognition of the generosity of The Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation.
On the front lawn of Ka Hale ‘Ohana is a sculpture of a pueo (owl), carved of native bluestone. A gift to the Society from seven friends, the pueo represents an ‘aumakua–a protecting spirit–for the Society’s work in Hawai’i. The pueo is dedicated to the memory of Monsignor Charles A. Kekumano, a longtime volunteer of the American Cancer Society.