The Sacred Piko Lei and the Blessing of WMCC

This is a very sentimental, and heartfelt post that I’d like to share with our community, recapping the WMCC Hawaiian Office Blessing for those who couldn’t be there. It was an amazing evening full of love, aloha, and tears of joy. For me as the founder of West Maui Counseling Center, I was overwhelmed with emotions as I watched the team I worked so hard to put together go through the blessing process, and recognize how important and special each and every one of them are, and the work they are doing for the community. To create something out of nothing, and to watch it grow into this is just beyond humbling and meaningful to me. WMCC started as a one person operation in a little office on Lahainaluna Rd. One day when I got off the boat from Molokai in 2011 where I worked at the time, I said to my then future husband “I’m ready.” Just me, an MEO loan with a lien on my Maui cruiser, and a vision for the future. I cannot find the words to describe how I felt in my heart except for aloha, love, and gratitude as I experienced this evening.

I had been contemplating blessing the office for a few years now, and the time didn’t feel right until now. With our newly expanded team of multidisciplinary health care providers, and a new vision for integrated health care for mental health consumers, it was finally time to have this very special event.

The evening started out with a private moment between me and my team, where I was able to get in a few words of heartfelt appreciation and gratitude, and provided each with special leis for the blessing. We cried, hugged, and got ready to begin. Our guests were waiting outside the front of the building, and we had some private time with our Kahu, Liko Rogers who blessed the office and led us through the ceremony. Our first task was to hang the Sacred Piko lei, made with love and aloha by a local Aunty. Our team was to hang the lei together, and everyone was to touch it, symbolizing unity and blessing the team, the hale, and our work together for the Maui Community.

Dr Harnick touching the umbilical cord of the Piko lei: Symbolizing new beginnings.

After hanging the lei, we went outside to greet our guests. What a wonderful sight to see loved ones: friends, family, and a variety of people from the community who were there to support us and WMCC. When I walked outside and saw so many people, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and quite surprised. I first spotted our special guest, Senator Roz Baker, and was able to take a moment to give her a lei as our honored guest, and talk story before the ceremony began. I was so honored that Senator Baker came to support WMCC and believes in us and our vision and mission for the West Maui community. What an honor.

Then the ceremony began, and what a beautiful ceremony it was. Kahu Liko chanted in Hawaiian and then explained the meaning of the Hawaiian words chanted and the significance of the blessing. It was pure aloha and love, and what a sight to see a varied group of people holding hands in a unified circle, supporting and understanding the importance of mental health and quality mental health care for our community in the light of day! No stigma, no shame, just love and compassion for a place of healing.


The ceremony began. Words cannot do it justice so I’ve provided video of the opening of the ceremony below. Click the link below to experience it for yourself then return to this post. It’s worth it. When I figure out how to embed a Facebook video it will be embedded here but for now here’s the link 🙂

At the conclusion of the part of the ceremony outside, Kahu Liko does an eloquent job of describing the Sacred Piko Lei, the native plants that comprise it, and their symbolic meanings. This lei is very special and here we learn why. Click Play below.

After the conclusion of the outside portion, the team and our guests went inside for our final task. Kahu Liko first blessed the Hale, went in alone first, chanting and using Hawaiian sea salt and ti leaf to cleanse the office. Upon his return, after his work inside was done, it was my job to cut the umbilical cord of the Piko Lei, which would then be buried in the ground and returned back to the land. The cutting of the umbilical cord of the lei, symbolizes the new beginning and blessing of the new team, our work, re-energized vision and mission, and the hale we do our work in. Click play on the video below.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, it was time to go inside and celebrate. I have to offer a special Mahalo to Lahaina Grill for catering the event with their onolicious food for our guests which was such a treat, and you will see in the slideshow below. I got the chance to say a few words of gratitude to our Kahu Liko, who is also my ohana, although words couldn’t really do justice the amount of gratitude I feel for him. I addressed our guests, and introduced the team officially to the community. In treatment with our patients, we emphasize being genuine, and so I took a dose of my own medicine and let it flow. As you can see from the pictures, it was flowing! I felt so proud of each and every provider I had the honor to introduce, highlighting their respective specialities professionally, as well as sharing how great they are as people: Caring, compassionate, loyal, and quite funny colleagues.

It’s been a long road of hard work and perseverance to get where we are today. It started out just me, but to grow into something truly special, I could not and cannot do it alone. Take a look at the final slideshow below. I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to experience the blessing though this post, and that it helps give you an idea of what we are all about at WMCC. Perfect, we are not, but genuinely caring about our patients and the work we do, we surely are. We will continue to strive to do our best, for each other as colleagues and for the community entrusting us with your care. We will continue to strive to practice aloha in all that we do. Mahalo nui loa for reading. -Dr. Kelly Harnick