Coming Together to Do the Right Thing.
When COVID struck, neighbors stepped up. One woman hired an out-of-work musician to play on her street several afternoons so neighbors could enjoy a socially distanced pau hana from their front yards. Neighbors in a Windward Side condo building went on a baking spree, leaving treats at each other’s front doors for weeks. Countless individuals and small businesses became master mask-makers, generously distributing them for free to first responders, essential workers, and then to friends.
But it didn’t stop there. Here’s just a few of the countless acts of kindness that have bubbled up during this unprecedented time.
We Are Oceania
Josie Howard, WAO program director, knew she needed to do something, that COVID would likely impact Micronesians disproportionately, and that resources for her community would be scarce. “I’ve been told time and again that since we don’t vote, we don’t matter,” she says.
She partnered with the Salvation Army, Chef Hui, The Pantry, churches, and teachers to collect and distribute needed goods: food, diapers, formula, disinfecting supplies, gloves and masks. She gathered interpreters to help families seek medical advice and to file for unemployment. The work was daunting, but the successes made it worthwhile. In several households, where a dozen or more family members shared a small space and a single bathroom, she and her team kicked in when a family member was struck with COVID. They worked with the families to develop isolation procedures within the close quarters and to ensure the place was disinfected constantly. In many cases, the patient recovered without infecting anyone else in the household.
She says COVID is teaching us that we have to think inclusively. “As a navigator, I know I can’t control the wind,” she says, “but I can control the sails.”
Help Is On the Way
When Greg Kim, a successful Honolulu corporate attorney and UH Law School professor, realized our kūpuna and isolated neighbors and friends would need help, he founded Help Is On the Way, a network of volunteers who get what’s needed to the people who need it. Much like the relief van on Maui, those in need simply place their orders or arrange for pickup, and Kim’s volunteers get those orders from point A to point B, whether it’s groceries, medicine, pet supplies or personal supplies.
Within two days of setting up the organization, Kim had 30 volunteers, boots on the ground getting goods to those who need it most. Not one to sit back and watch, Kim told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, “If you see something that needs to happen, do something.”
The group’s website makes it easy to volunteer and learn how to access its services. “Help Is On The Way does not have or need funding, which gives us great flexibility and the ability to move fast,” the website says.
Hometown Heroes by Hawai‘I National Bank
The folks at the bank saw what many of us saw: people making masks, helping out on the front lines, making and delivering meals to kūpuna, addressing mental health, using their platforms to share critical information and so much more.
They decided those hometown heroes deserved something for their work, so for six weeks, they asked the community to nominate a hometown hero for recognition. Each hero’s story is told on the bank’s website and each received a $100 cash gift for their good works.
“Most people were shocked, and many didn’t want to take the money,” says Bryan Luke, CEO of Hawai‘i National Bank. “But we encouraged them to take it and put it toward the work they were doing in the community.”
Boys & Girls Club of Hawai‘i and Old Navy
It’s tough to social distance in a clubhouse filled with children, volunteers and staff cooking, doing homework, playing games, talking story and more. When the Boys & Girls Club of Hawai‘i had to close its doors, staff members simply pivoted, taking many of their activities ohttps://www.bgch.com/nline via Zoom and other platforms. Clubhouses from O‘ahu to Kaua‘i host virtual workouts, jewelry making parties, homework help sessions, and more. The organization is also at work re-imagining the clubhouses in anticipation of reopening, eventually, creating socially distanced activities for keiki. And it’s establishing socially distant boundaries and retooling the clubhouses to maximize space. Lastly, it’s helping to keep keiki nourished, partnering with restaurants and other food providers in their communities so club members can swing by during the week for grab-and-go meals.
When Old Navy called, offering a generous donation of 50,000 pieces of new clothing to be distributed among the five clubhouses, each clubhouse called on its volunteers to sort, package and deliver the clothing to their members. Once the clubhouses distributed clothing to their members, BGCH then extended the remaining clothing to Women In Need, Salvation Army, Waikiki Health, and more.
Hāna Community Relief Van
In partnership with Protect East Maui and Valley Isle Excursions, a group of committed East Maui residents launched Valley Isle Community Relief, dispatching a van every Friday to deliver orders from Costco, Target, Safeway and Petco to residents from Kahului to Hāna. For free. Residents simply place their orders through Instacart, directing the order to be delivered to a set address during a specific time window, and the relief van team takes it from there.
The project follows strict COVID procedures, with minimal contact with the delivered goods, thorough van sanitation, and regular testing of the drivers. And of course, masks are used and social distancing is the norm.