Aloha! I was honored when Hui Ho‘omalu invited me to share a little about my childhood, and I hope that it will inspire potential Resource Caregivers to open their homes to the approximately 100 keiki in foster care on Kaua‘i.
As Mayor of the County of Kaua‘i, I am often asked about my upbringing and the path that led me to this position. I was born and raised on Kaua‘i and graduated from Kapa‘a High School. I enjoyed playing sports and participating in school activities – from the choral group to Future Farmers of America. Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money but we never felt like we were without. I have a very positive memory of my childhood.
A life-changing moment happened when I was 10 years old and my parents separated. This was a very difficult time for me and my siblings. My grandmother, Georgina Carvalho, recognized the strain on our family and brought us into her home.
A custodian for Kapa‘a High School for 30 years, my grandmother knew all my teachers and kept tabs on me. That definitely motivated me to be a good student! Through working hard in school and sports, I was able to attend UH Maˉnoa on a football scholarship.
While under my grandmother’s care, I was taught to be kind, strong, humble, respectful, and to work hard to achieve my goals. More importantly, whatever challenges I faced growing up, I knew I was surrounded by love. She showed me that love truly does conquer all.
My wife Regina and I are now grandparents, and we have the privilege of helping to raise our grandchildren, Welina and Nahoa. I hope to provide the same love and guidance for them that my grandmother instilled in me.
Any painful experience, including divorce, can by detrimental for a child. But sometimes all it takes is one person, such as a grandparent, to put a child on the path to success. My childhood wasn’t an easy one, but I truly believe all of my life experiences led me exactly to where I am today. I wouldn’t change any of it.
Our keiki are in urgent need of Resource Caregivers and they deserve to feel important and loved. I share my story because I hope it encourages at least one adult to be that positive influence for a keiki in need. You might just play a key role in raising our next Mayor of Kaua‘i!
Bernard P. Carvalho Jr.
Mayor, County of Kaua‘i