Hawai‘i Life Charitable Fund Grant Supports the Kihei Pua Family Shelter in Hilo, Hawai‘i

Many Hawai‘i families are facing hardships and challenges right now. HOPE Services Hawai‘i, Inc. (HOPE) serves the most vulnerable in our island community: those at imminent risk of and experiencing homelessness. The charitable non-profit received grant funding from the Hawai‘i Life Charitable Fund (HLCF) to support programming at the Kihei Pua Family Shelter in Hilo, Hawai‘i.

In 2019, 1,324 people accessed homeless services on Hawaiʻi Island. Nearly 85% of those services were provided by HOPE, according to Brandee Menino, Chief Executive Officer at HOPE Services Hawai‘i.

She recently shared that her organization has contributed to a 4-year decline in homelessness on Hawai‘i Island (from 2017-2020). She credits this decline to capacity building within her organization to operationalize data-informed practices. HOPE has also focused on developing strategic partnerships focused on measurable outcomes.

Kihei Pua is one of eight shelters operated by HOPE on Hawai‘i Island. With rampant unemployment throughout the state and the imminent threat of widespread evictions, HOPE Services is in significant need of support and donations. Sarah Figueroa, Grant Writer and Community Partnership Manager at HOPE, recently shared details about HOPE’s increased community outreach, capacity building, and financial needs precipitated by Covid-19:

“We at HOPE have definitely experienced an increase in needed services across the island as a result of COVID-19, like so many of our helping partner agencies. Beginning in March, we began implementing anti-contagion measures across our facilities and throughout our programs. To help reduce the rate of transmission, we strengthened our outreach and street medicine programs. At the onset of the pandemic, we partnered with two underutilized hotels for emergency, temporary shelter for high-risk individuals and families – providing the means for more than 60 people to safely shelter-in-place. And in partnership with the County of Hawaiʻi, we’ve taken on the management of two new emergency shelters to ensure the safety of the unsheltered in our community. Our needs as an agency have indeed grown.”

About Kihei Pua Family Shelter

“Emergency shelter plays a critical role in our systemized, housing-focused response to homelessness,” said Figueroa in a recent email. “It is a setting where families can regain their strengths, stabilize, and get support to overcome their experience in homelessness.”

“The Kihei Pua Emergency Shelter provides for families with children who have no place to call home. At Kihei Pua, shelter is both a temporary living place and a transformative program where participants and staff remain focused on the ultimate goal of permanent housing.”

HLCF Grant Funding Supports A Safe Haven for Families

“The Hawai‘i Life Charitable Fund’s Hawai‘i Love grant program supported direct program expenses related to the repairs and maintenance of the Kihei Pua facility, which ensures the integrity of the program site and the security of residents. Repairs and maintenance are an ongoing, variable expense,” noted Figueroa.

Grant funding from the HLCF was used to ensure the shelter is equipped with working appliances and for the maintenance and repair of critical items like fans, plumbing, water heaters, washers and dryers, lighting, and window screens. The grant also helped to ensure that pests and rodents, common in our tropical climate, do not compromise the health and well-being of the Kihei Pua Family Shelter residents.

These seem like basic essentials that many of us in Hawai‘i take for granted. Ensuring their reliable and consistent functionality has a direct impact on the health and well-being of the many Hawai‘i Island residents served by HOPE at the Kihei Pua Family Shelter and other facilities they operate.

“With funding support from HLCF, Kihei Pua provided a safe place for families to live while they worked to regain a permanent home,” said Kristen Alice, Director of Community Relations at HOPE, who shared the following story of a Hawai‘i Island mother who was able to provide a safe place for her children to sleep, with help from HOPE.

Jamie’s Journey Out of Homelessness

Jamie is a mother of three elementary school students who always put her children’s needs first. She did everything in her power to give them a safe home and a bright future. When the family received an eviction notice, and with 45 days to find a new home, Jamie scoured the internet for rental listings. She made phone calls and sent emails but found no one willing to rent to them. With time running out, no support, and nowhere to go, Jamie and her family ultimately found themselves living on the streets of Hilo.

Facing the bleak reality of losing their home — the exposure to harsh weather, the danger of being assaulted, and the risk of having all of their possessions stolen — Jamie and her children had no other option than to sleep in their car. They found a safe place to park overnight, but were required to leave every day from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm.

Her situation went from bad to worse. One day, Jamie’s car wouldn’t start. With her transportation gone, the only way she could get assistance, supplies, and food was on foot. Early in the mornings, Jamie got her children ready and loaded up heavy bags with all their belongings. She and her keiki would trudge off, often into the scorching sun or pouring rain, searching for somewhere that would grant them shelter for 12 hours. When they had nowhere to eat meals, which was often, they ate on the road. “I almost gave up my children because I couldn’t drag them through that,” Jamie recalled with tears, “And then HOPE Services gave me hope.”


Jamie’s journey out of homelessness began at the Kihei Pua Family Shelter in Hilo, Hawai‘i.

A unit opened up at the Kihei Pua Family Shelter in Hilo, and HOPE’s staff welcomed Jamie and her children into the program. At Kihei Pua, the family no longer had to fear for their safety on the streets. They had beds and a space to stretch their legs. They had clean running water; a restroom to relieve themselves, wash and brush their teeth; refrigeration and increased access to food; a table for having meals together; and a place to wash their clothing and safely store their belongings. In short, they had all the things that we all need to live a life of dignity.

No longer worried about her young family’s basic needs, Jamie worked around the clock with HOPE’s staff support: submitting applications, visiting apartments, and meeting with landlords. After a couple of months, she found a place to call home for her and her children, where they remain today.

“Without [HOPE Services], we wouldn’t be where we’re at today. We would have… a broken family,” says Jamie. “Thanks to them, we got by, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

More About HOPE Services Hawai‘i

With more than 20 years of experience operating as the Care-a-Van Program (under the Office of Social Ministry, Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu), since its inception as a nonprofit charitable organization in 2010, HOPE has expanded its service capacity and evolved to serve the most economically and socially disadvantaged populations using best practices, like Housing First.

HOPE delivers on its mission to “bring to life the gospel values of justice, love, compassion, and hope through services, empowerment, and advocacy” through a continuum of services including mobile outreach, street medicine, emergency shelter, rental assistance, housing location, case management, and permanent supportive housing services across Hawaiʻi Island, with an estimated 200,000 residents living across 4,028 square miles of mostly rural communities.

“We at HOPE know that our work in providing meaningful, housing-focused programs and services have been made possible, directly, with support and partnership from Hawaiʻi Life Charitable Fund,” said Figueroa. “We would like to express our gratitude to Hawaiʻi Life Charitable Fund in selecting our agency as a partner in providing shelter for families in need. We could not do the work we do without your support!”

Due to the rising economic impacts of the pandemic, HOPE Services is more vital to the community than ever. We encourage you to donate online today to help support their important work serving the Big Island community. Hawai‘i Life agents and brokers can make donations to the HLCF when closing escrow or at any time online at

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Jeremy Stice

August 27, 2020

Beautiful post and incredible cause! Thank you for sharing. I am so proud to be part of the Hawaii Life Charitable Fund board and long time contributor of this vital community endeavor. Let’s all continue to share the love, generosity, and Aloha!

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