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What is Kokua?

In the native Hawaiian culture, “kokua” is a very important word and concept. Kokua is a way of relating to others that is characterized by kindness and a desire to be of help.So what exactly is Kokua? Kokua is a non-profit residential support services agency located in Lacey. We support adults with developmental disabilities in Thurston County. Our mission is to provide citizens with disabilities the support needed to live full and meaningful lives. Kokua is currently celebrating our 25th anniversary and looking forward to the next 25!

If you work or volunteer for Kokua, sooner or later someone will ask you the question: what in the world does Kokua mean? Some people find the word difficult to pronounce at first. (For the record, it’s “koh-koo-ah”). Some folks have even suggested that we change our name to something more conventional, but we’ve found that having an unusual name is a great conversation starter.

Kokua means to help, give aid or assistance. The concept relates to pitching in, extending help to others for their own benefit and not for personal gain. Kokua also denotes a spirit of generosity, even self-sacrifice. Hawaiian culture places a high value on social interdependence as a necessity for maintaining the health of the community. Our organization was given the name Kokua because of our founder’s cultural heritage. Our agency’s name has been both a gift and a legacy to uphold.