Hafa adai (hello),
Inafa'maolek (to strive for harmony, to make good) is a gift from our good CHamoru ancestors. We know it well through witnessing the ways of our Manåmko' (elders) so we give thanks and honor them. We are humbled to continue to learn and share the way of Inafa'maolek. This organization was initiated in 2021, centered in Alameda, the ancestral and unceded land of the Chochenyo-speaking Ohlone people. The roots connect to dialogue between mother and daughter confronting the challenges intergenerational trauma and the relationship to present-day systems of oppression in their respective fields of education and health. Resilience and abundance in familial, cultural resources as well as our physical body and earth were recognized despite colonization and past harms impacting mind, body and spirt. Family and friends gravitated to create an intentional space of gathering and practicing the healing medicine of Inafa'maolk with the larger community. It has been movement of peace. Inafa'maolek exists in the legacy of belated mother/nana Rita Aguero Castro directing her descendants to "stay together" during a time close to her transition and a life of nurturing. We are alive with strong roots to Guahan and value our mixed heritage, interconnections. We welcome you to join us in creating the beauty that's possible when we stay together, center inafa'maolek and celebrate fa'maolek (when something is fixed, repaired, made good) in the present.
Saina ma'ase (thank you translated as "the elder is merciful")
Our mission is to inspire hope and strengthen our CHamoru Bay Area community.
Our vision is to have a world where all can walk with inner peace and thrive with harmony.
AN IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT OUR NAME
Inafa'maolek is central to CHamoru culture, way of being and represents what moves our work. In our journey to becoming a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization, after being approved by the State of California with honoring Inafa'maolek in our name, we were initially denied by the IRS. We were told that we could not use, "special characters" in our name, thus, we changed our organization name from inafa'maolek to inafamaolek.us.
Although we have an oral tradition and written Chamorro language is modern, the apostrophe represents how inafa'maolek should be pronounced. We acknowledge inafamaolek.us is not the same. Until we are able to use "special characters," our organizational name will be Inafamaolek.us. We respect the ancestral language of our people and the depth embedded.
MEET THE TEAM
Founding Board Member
President, Executive Director
Verna is a parent to a multiracial daughter and Nana (grandmother) of two boys. Both her parents are CHamoru (indigenous to Guam) and came to the mainland US after her father was stationed at Alameda Naval Base. Her father later became a firefighter then soon passed away at the age of 37 due to cancer leaving her mother Rita to raise 5 young children. With an unwavering commitment to insist that education and family values was the center of life, her mother unconditionally expressed a deep love.
Verna graduated from USF, Stanford and UC Berkeley with a double masters in educational administration. She has been an educator for 37 years focused on educational success, lifetime fitness and wellness. She has been an Athletic Director for 24 years and an Athletic Coach for 25 years winning 7 basketball school championships. She was a 27 year Physical Education teacher and currently works as a Program Administrator in San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD).
After contemplation in 2020 after the Alameda School Board election, Inafamaolek.us was created to serve Bay Area CHamoru communities. In 2021, Verna led the the first ever SFUSD Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (NHPI), 5th, 8th, and Senior Graduation Ceremony. Verna currently continues to serve her community in 2023 by coordinating a SFUSD Pacific Islander Wellness Festival May 6, 2023 partnering with community and SFUSD in line with the opening of the Pacific Island Heritage District in San Francisco.
Verna values extended family relationships, believes love is at the core of all things, educational attainment and being a part of community is necessary to support and uplift each other. She also values making connections with others to empower and support seeing and valuing the good in all people for the collective good. She brings these values daily and lived experiences to her leadership with Inafamaolek.us
Founding Board Member
Meri was born in Riverside, California and raised in the Bay Area. She currently resides in San Leandro. Her mother is Ba Maurie Tauoa Tolai. She was born in Papua New Guinea. Meri’s mother is Samoan and is from the Village of Vaitogi in American Samoa. Her father is Motu Ve’ave’a. He was born in the village of Leone in American Samoa.
Meri attended Serramonte High School in Daly City and graduated in 1978. She attended the College of San Mateo in 1979 to 1980. Meri excelled in Basketball in High School and Community College. In high school, she was voted the team's Most Valuable Player for all four years she played. In 1979, she was voted the Golden Gate Conference League Most Valuable Player and the Team MVP in San Mateo. Meri attended Brigham Young University in Hawaii from 1980 to 1982 and studied Social Welfare. Meri came back home and enrolled in San Francisco State University and graduated with a BA in Sociology.
Meri began her Law Enforcement career in 1982. She worked at San Bruno Police Department as a Community Service Officer. She then was recruited and hired by the San Francisco Police Department (163rd Class) in 1986. Meri was one of the first Samoan Females to be hired by SFPD. In 1989, she transferred to San Francisco Sheriff’s Department. Meri spent 23 years in Law Enforcement and retired in 2010.
Meri has participated in the Police Olympics and the Police and Fire Games in California, Arizona and Nevada. She played on Softball and Basketball Teams. Meri holds the 2000 Bench Press Record (Masters/ Female) in California.
Meri has worked as a Project Coordinator for a Pacific Islander youth program ( Pacific Islander Voices Outreach Transformation) in San Mateo County. She also worked as a Community Outreach Worker and Case Manager for Essence of MANA , Parent Project a program of Asian American Recovery Services and HealthRight 360. Meri is board member on the San Leandro Chief Advisory Board.
Founding Board Member
Rawlin Castro foremost is an energetic leader and problem-solver.
With over 25 years in both public and private sectors, Rawlin has consistently oversaw the successful implementation and opening lines of communication between clients, customers, and businesses to get projects done. Rawlin has direct experience in management consultation, team-building, professional development, strategic implementation, and company collaboration.
Rawlin is a retired Army field-grade officer with extensive low and mid-level organizational experience with both command and staff responsibilities in combat and peacetime. He lives by and conducts his actions by the creed – “Mission First – People Always”
Army Command and General Staff College graduate.
Rawlin enjoys traveling and immersing himself in the different local cultures around the world. He is very active and outgoing, and is passionate about physical fitness, and welcomes spending any free time hiking with his wife Maggie and family dog Rusty.
B.S. Chemical Engineer – U.S. Military Academy at West Point
Founding Board Member
Glenn Castro is the youngest child of 5 born to Rita and Jesus Castro in Daily City. He currently resides in Fremont with his wife whom he describes as his rock. He has two adult daughters and 9 grandchildren. He is an avid musician, playing in local bands throughout the San Francisco Bay Area as a bassist and drummer. He is skillful in home and auto repair as well as dog training. One of Glenn's passions is teaching music, karate, meditation,sports and life skills to youth. For over 20 years, Glenn has maintained tremendous rapport with the school community at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy and brings his good way of building relationships to community work with Inafamaolek.us.
Founding Board Member
Yvonne brings 15+ years experience in Accounting and Procurement. She has held various roles across hi-tech companies within the Bay Area.
She was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and has resided in San Mateo County with her husband for the past 20 years. Yvonne has three young adult children and she is of Chamorro descent with parents that immigrated to the states and were challenged with many unknown resources available. Yvonne feels a sense of duty to ensure awareness within the Chamorro community and that her children and children’s children will continue to learn and appreciate the rich cultural history. Yvonne is excited to help build with Chamorro and other communities through education, health, wellness and staying connected.