National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse (NAPAFASA) was formed in 1987 to address the growing substance abuse problems in the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander (AANH&PI) populations. Despite the myth of the "model minority," AANH&PIs, especially youth, are at high risk of involvement in alcohol and other drug abuse and related problems. NAPAFASA now focuses on substance abuse and all of its related problems, including health care, gang and domestic violence, mental health, and poverty.
NAPAFASA advocates a comprehensive national strategy to address the substance abuse and related problems of AANH&PIs. More research is needed on their health-related problems, including the incidence and prevalence of substance abuse. It will be difficult to expand and improve services without accurate research data, and family and community empowerment.
Using its network of members throughout the continental United States, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands, NAPAFASA represents concerns of AANH&PI at the local, state and national level. NAPAFASA produces a quarterly newsletter as well as informational materials to assist members in applying for federal and other funds, improving local programs, and sharing the experiences of successful programs within AANH&PI communities.
NAPAFASA also offers technical assistance and training to promote a clearer understanding of AANH&PI cultures and their relationship to a wide range of concerns, including alcohol and other drug problems.
NAPAFASA holds national and regional conferences to train AANH&PI on prevention and treatment issues, bringing together a national network of service providers, families, and community advocates. They include representatives from the continental United States, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands, and offer outstanding speakers, skill building workshops, coalition building, cultural competency training, capacity building, and technical assistance. These conferences are supported by federal and private funds.
Patrick Okura (NAPAFASA Founder)
Pat was born in the South Bay area of Los Angeles where he excelled in athletics and went on to UCLA where he was the first Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) to play on the varsity baseball team. He loved sports and later bowled in a local Washington, D.C. league and played golf regularly with his wooden clubs. He received a B.A. in psychology in 1933 and was the first AAPI to receive a Master's Degree in Psychology at UCLA. This was the highest graduate degree that UCLA offered at the time. Pat received an honorary doctorate in 2001 from another institution. He was a strong supporter of the UCLA Asian American Studies Program and the UCLA Alumni Association where he received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
After graduating from UCLA, Pat took a job with the personnel department of the City of Los Angeles. When World War II began, Pat and his wife Lily were imprisoned in the Manzanar concentration camp for Japanese Americans. However, because of his psychology training he was recruited by Father Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town in Omaha, NE to join their staff. He spent 30 years at Boys Town and later became the Chief Probation Officer for the State of Nebraska. As a Japanese American Citizens League national leader, he participated in the civil rights march on Washington, D.C. with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963. Pat had a fiery, life-long passion for civil rights.
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In 1972, Pat was recruited to Washington, D.C. by Dr. Bertram Brown, the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health. He later retired from Federal service and was involved in several projects in the private sector regarding health care and university medical training. Pat also founded the National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse (NAPAFASA) in 1988 as well as the Asian American Psychological Association about that time.
During this period, Pat and Lily started the Okura Mental Health Leadership Foundation Summer Internship Program in Washington, D.C. Pat and Lily created the foundation and personally led the annual summer internships for approximately ten AAPI mental health professionals in Washington, D.C. for about ten years. Their foundation over the years provided internships for over 75 AAPI professionals.
Pat was the founder of NAPAFASA and the National Director in the early years. He helped plan the NAPAFASA conferences in Washington, D.C. and was an advocate for AAPI substance abuse and mental health issues with the Federal agencies and policy makers. Many NAPAFASA folks have fond memories of Pat and Lily's hospitality when they invited AAPI visitors from out-of-town to their home for comfort food, networking, and developing advocacy strategies.
Kiyoshi Patrick Okura passed away on January 30, 2005 at the age of 93 in Bethesda, MD.
Lily Okura passed away on June 14, 2005 in Bethesda, MD. She was the beloved wife of K. Patrick Okura. Memorial contributions Pat and Lily may be made to the Okura Mental Health Leadership Foundation, c/o Frances Okura, 2112 Via Madonna, Lomita, CA 90717 or to Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church at the above address.