“Caring for the Whole Person”
As Pope Francis once said during his first visit to the U.S., “The Son of God came into this world as a homeless person. The Son of God knew what it was to start life without a roof over His head.” Every person facing homelessness, no matter their circumstance, deserves dignity and support. Hope Services Hawai’i is a nonprofit that seeks to “make homelessness on Hawai’i Island rare, brief, and non-recurring.”
Originally spun off from the Care-A-Van Program begun in the 1980s, in 2010 the Diocese of Honolulu created Hope Services as a separate-but-associated nonprofit entity of the Office for Social Ministry. There are so many resources provided by Hope Services! These include shelter, the Friendly Place Resource Center, outreach, street medicine, homeless diversion and prevention, housing, permanent supportive housing, rapid rehousing, community integration services, and more. The organization is working to increase its behavioral health services and has several new paid positions available.
Brandee Menino, CEO of Hope Services, would love to see more volunteers from St. Michael the Archangel serving at this organization.
“We are the largest homeless services provider on Hawai’i Island, but we don’t serve our neighbors alone,” Brandee says. “We have community partners who help us care for the whole person and provide the unique services each individual needs.”
Unfortunately, there is a misconception that all people who are homeless have made bad decisions and are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
“This is simply not true,” Brandee says. “The majority of our houseless neighbors lost their housing because of family problems or because the rent was too high.”
Even if a person is addicted to drugs or alcohol, they are worthy of the dignity and respect due to all human beings. The sad fact is about 28 percent of those experiencing homelessness on Hawai’i Island are children.
Brandee says one of the biggest needs at Hope Services is for volunteers to help pick up and store donations, especially furniture. Sometimes they receive donations that would be a perfect fit for a family, but there is nowhere to store the item nor anyone to haul it.
“If you have a vehicle, storage space, or muscles, this might be the project for you,” she says.
The Friendly Place Resource Center provides meals for those facing homelessness. They also provide mail, coin laundry, emergency services, phone for housing or job-related calls, showers, and lockers. Volunteers from St. Michael’s make meals for the center once a month on Tuesdays. Volunteers are also needed to do maintenance projects like painting, cleaning, and landscaping to help keep the shelters clean, safe, and welcoming.
Brandee recommends volunteering to help those who are experiencing homelessness and make a greater connection with those in need.
“You can receive a deeper understanding of how homelessness happens to people in our community and the knowledge of what it will take to end homelessness,” she says.
Plus, those who serve in this way find that they often receive more than they put in.
“It can give a person the wisdom to listen to those who experience homelessness and the confidence to use their gifts to take action,” she says.
“We are the largest homeless services provider on Hawai’i Island, but we don’t serve our neighbors alone. We have community partners who help us care for the whole person and provide the unique services each individual needs.” — Brandee Menino