What We Do


Four programs make up the foundation of Abilities Unlimited – the Employment Program, the Medicaid Waiver Program, the Travel Training Program, and the AmeriCorps Program. In addition to the variety of services provided, Abilities Unlimited staffs and operates the 5th Floor Café. Abilities Unlimited is also committed to advocacy and big-picture, systematic attitudinal change regarding individuals with disabilities in the community.


Employment Program

Focuses on helping individuals with barriers to employment to gain and maintain competitive employment.

The Program serves Department of Human Services Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) consumers under three DVR contracts: Supported Employment Services (SES), Job Placement & Retention Services (JPRS), and Evaluation, Training, & Placement Services (ET&P). Because each participant faces unique barriers to employment, Abilities Unlimited recognizes the need to provide individualized one-on-one assistance and develop creative solutions tailored to each individual’s circumstances.
The Employment Program’s strength rests in its ability to meet the complex needs of individuals with disabilities, and is guided by the participant’s self-determination and active participation. Successful job placement must be consistent with the participants’ strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, and informed choice.
Abilities Unlimited’s Employment Counselors work with participants on various areas, including, but not limited to: Job searching, interview preparation, resume building, self-management, interactions with co-workers and supervisors, budgeting, and job maintenance.

Medicaid Waiver Program

The Program serves participants referred by the State of Hawaii Department of Health Developmental Disabilities Division, offering Personal Assistance/Habilitation services (PAB-1), Adult Day Health services (ADH) , and employment services.

Abilities Unlimited offers individuals who qualify for PAB-1 services personal assistance on a number of independent living skills, which include developing community access skills, utilizing community resources, learning appropriate personal habits to meet health and safety needs, and learning to safely use public transportation. Trained and qualified Direct Support Workers (DSW’s) are available at various hours to help individuals to develop identified skills and meet measurable goals needed to live and work in the community.
Abilities Unlimited’s ADH Program offers qualified individuals with disabilities with
Abilities Unlimited’s Medicaid Waiver Employment Services offer qualifying individuals with personal assistance for pre-vocation services, individual employment supports, and group employment supports.

Travel Training Program

Empowers individuals with disabilities to navigate the public bus system with safety and independence.

Abilities Unlimited has partnered with the City & County of Honolulu and Innovative Paradigms to assist people with disabilities to learn how to navigate the public bus system and gain more independence. We provide travel training, free of charge, to any person with a disability, from any Oahu-based point of origin to any Oahu-based destination of their choice. In the past, trainees have been trained to travel to their place of work, their parent’s office, the supermarket, and their church, among dozens of other destinations. Our experienced team of Travel Trainers will train individuals for up to 30 hours, and this training will not affect the trainee’s eligibility for Handi-Van services.

AmeriCorps: Abilities Unlimited’s Empowerment & Employment Program

A program committed to “serve more, serve better.”

Abilities Unlimited’s Empowerment and Employment Program (EMP2 Program) is a program designed to accomplish two goals: (1) usher in a new generation of individuals devoted to human services by training and mentoring AmeriCorps Members to become employment counselors for persons with disabilities, and (2) better train persons with disabilities to gain and maintain competitive employment. Our slogan for the EMP2 Program is “Serve more, serve better.”
AmeriCorps is a federally-funded program that provides funding to a large network of public and nonprofit organizations, like Abilities Unlimited. AmeriCorps is designed to achieve direct results in addressing the nation's critical education, human, public safety, and environmental needs at the community level. The program provides meaningful opportunities for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve their country in organized efforts, fostering civic responsibility, building community, and providing educational opportunity for those who make a substantial commitment to service.

5th Floor Café

Abilities Unlimited’s training facility for persons with disabilities who strive to develop the skills to eventually gain competitive employment.

Several participants serve as temporary volunteer cashiers, kitchen prep, and kitchen utility clerks, all in preparation for competitive employment positions. The cafe is located in the Department of Health building at 1250 Punchbowl Street, 5th Floor, Honolulu, HI 96813. The café provides a full service breakfast menu, daily lunch specials, homemade soups, made-to-order sandwiches, scrumptious salads, and delicious desserts. It is open Monday through Friday (except holidays) from 7:00 am – 3:00 pm.


Abilities Unlimited is committed to outreach and advocacy, with the goal of creating systematic attitudinal change in the community.

Abilities Unlimited has begun to implement its Disability Awareness Project, a series of mobile, interactive presentations tailored to elementary, middle, and high school students, businesses, organizations, and the community-at-large. The organization operates upon the logic that in order to approach true equality, both the community and individuals with disabilities must be educated and supported. Abilities Unlimited has been, and will continue to be, committed to taking on this challenge.

Success Stories

“After being a carpenter for over 30 years, something devastating happened – I had a stroke. I went to Abilities Unlimited and they started enrolling me in classes to learn new things in life. As time went on, Amir (Employment Counselor at Abilities) found me a volunteering job at the 5th Floor Café where I started doing cashiering work. The holidays rolled around, I went for a job interview at the Navy Exchange. After two weeks, I had in my hand my first paycheck that I thought I would never see again.” - Gary Hernando