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Dear COVID-19

January 22, 2021

Dear COVID-19,

Years before we were wearing face masks and applying hand sanitizer to protect against you, we were dealing with a pandemic of a different sort: the crisis of families experiencing homelessness.

At Family Promise of Hawaiʻi, the values of empathy, respect, and collaboration are the heart of our culture. So, naturally, we rely on these values as we rally together to protect our community’s keiki from homelessness and hunger.

COVID-19, you have brought a new layer of uncertainty to our community but we have news for you: We are stronger!

Our parents and children have been through more than you can ever throw at us. They have overcome fears and anxieties, scarcity, and discouragement with the kind of strength and courage that wilts metal.

You spread despair. We prioritize hope. We pivot in the direction of opportunity - always.

Rest assured that beneath the masks our families wear at our shelter, glowing smiles abound. While we mask up, we also shield against despair with intangible tools like resiliency, patience, and determination. We know that nothing should stand in the way of families achieving their potential, no matter what the world says.

For the past fifteen years, our families have overcome daunting challenges to find stability, joy, and fulfillment. We have learned that homelessness never defines anyone we serve. It is simply a unique chance for our families to rebuild community, restore confidence, and chase their dreams.

Now, you are just one more temporary hurtle along that path. And with the inspiring support of our community, we rise above you.


The Family Promise ʻOhana

We adapted this message to COVID-19 from our friends at Family Promise of Spokane.


How the Community is Stepping Up to Meet Needs

The circumstances that arose last year required us to figure out new ways to serve the needs of the most vulnerable in our community. Throughout the year, our corps of volunteers and donors stepped up and helped fulfill every need. You all showed up in countless ways in 2020, Here's a couple highlights:

  • When the first round of stimulus checks were released, some folks felt the funds were needed elsewhere and donated to our families.

  • When we needed extra help to pack U-Hauls to get resources to different parts of the island - the community showed up & volunteered their time.

  • When we could no longer serve meals to our families buffet style, volunteers went out of their way to package meals individually to ensure everyone’s safety.

  • When schools began remote education last year, volunteers helped with social-distance learning with the children in our programs.

  • You all made sure the staff had masks, gloves, sanitizer, and even coffee to ensure that we were safe & energized.

  • In May as the world banned together to protest the murder of George Floyd, many people simply did not know how to navigate such a difficult conversation about racial injustice. Luckily, wonderful community leaders helped guide us by sharing their knowledge, compassion, and insight.

  • During this past holiday season, when so many had a holiday that they never expected to, the community presented us with an abundance of gifts and gift cards. Because of the generosity you all showed, we were even able to give some support to other organizations.

There are many other ways you all showed up. In fact, in 2020 we received more volunteer inquiries and donations than ever before. Although many of the hours dedicated to volunteering last year were unaccounted for, the hours that were tracked showed that volunteers contributed over $50,000 worth of in-kind time to Family Promise.

So, it is with our deepest sincerity we say thank you.

Pictured above: Ben & Emiko are newlyweds who planned to have a ceremony and reception late last year. However, the pandemic prevented them from having the gathering. So they decided to use the money they'd paid for catering the event to instead provide Christmas Dinner for the families in our Emergency Shelter Program.


Meet the Team

An interview with Sam, Executive Director

The FPH team (staff, volunteers, and board members) is diverse. We value this diversity as one of the strongest factors in our collective success. Drawing upon our range of cultural backgrounds, skills, educational levels, beliefs, and experiences fosters empathy, creativity, and community. In our upcoming newsletters we will be featuring a variety of team members at FPH so you can get to know them a little better.

This month, we get to know Sam.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I moved to Hawaiʻi in 2011 to get my masterʻs degree from the University of Hawaiʻi. I'm originally from Florida. I have a passion for working with community which was developed during my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines.

What brought you to Family Promise?

I was drawn to Family Promise's community response to family homelessness. Homelessness is such a complex issue impacting our community. I was inspired by Family Promise's proactive approach to helping solve the crisis of family homelessness.

Do you have any hidden talents or hobbies?

Lately I have been reading a lot. I rediscovered how amazing our public library system is!

What’s something you’re proud of?

My sister and I are first-generation college graduates!

What’s something you find challenging about your work at Family Promise?

There's so much that's challenging about the work we do at Family Promise! I hate knowing we often have a waitlist for our services because the need in our community far outweighs our capacity to help. But, knowing our team is working hard every day to try and increase our availability of services is truly inspiring!

When you are not working, what's your favorite way to relax?

I love the ocean. I find it super relaxing and healing.


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