A PUBLICATION OF THE INSTITUTE FOR HUMAN SERVICES
KE ALA KUPONO The Worthy Path
• Encouraging Homeless Keiki to Dream Big • Personal Reflection by Kimo Carvalho
Encouraging Homeless Keiki to Dream Big Do you remember the dreams you had as a child? No matter what youthful ambitions you held, whether you wanted to be an astronaut, veterinarian, business owner or a movie star, the common thread of every childhood dreams is a desire to succeed.
For homeless children, dreams and ambitions can be extremely hard to come by. It’s hard to see a future beyond the immediate struggles their families face; to believe that life can be different. With no control over their current circumstances, it is even more difficult for them to believe that they could personally have the ability to make a better future happen. This summer, IHS teamed up with several partners, including Southwest Airlines, Enterprise Holdings, Disney Aulani, aio Foundation, and many other generous friends to provide a group of homeless and newly housed children with a truly lifechanging experience. The goal was to transform these children’s view of their own future and awaken them to the possibilities that exist if they are willing to work toward their dreams. Arriving at the airport, the kids were restless with anticipation. Most had never been on an airplane before. Reaching their destination in the evening, IHS staff transported everyone to the location that would be their home during a week-long adventure in California.
on their own, the kids were quite cautious in their spending choices, reviewing their priorities and contemplating purchases. But child or adult, most of us could probably agree with the kids first purchase choice – ice cream! IHS staff also had the opportunity to learn a great deal from this adventure. This chance to spend extensive time and individualized interaction with the kids provided our Family Program staff with valuable insights into the many things these kids need to continue to overcome obstacles and thrive. By learning more about the emotional and psychological challenges they face, and the intervention required to support both children and parents, IHS can continue to improve our services to best meet the needs of the families we serve. Our goal in working with homeless families is not just getting them into housing, it’s preventing them from ever becoming homeless again. IHS is grateful to have been provided with this incredible opportunity to not only inspire our children to dream big; to think differently about what is possible in their lives, but to also learn ourselves how we can continue to best serve any family facing a housing crisis. By offering the support and skills our keiki and their parents need to become stable and successful, we can end family homelessness in Hawaii.
One of the most exciting aspects of this trip for the kids was the beautiful, spacious house they got to stay in. With comfortable beds, nice furnishings, and plenty of room to play hide and seek, the kids came to treat the house as if it was their own home, and all worked together to care for it with enthusiasm. They made their beds each morning, washed dishes, set the table, and greatly enjoyed assisting IHS staff in the kitchen preparing meals. Those routines of the household that we might tend to see as tedious became something truly special for these kids. Daily chores were a thing to look forward to, for what they represented; living in a home and working together as a family to care for it, and for one another. The trip included visits to Discovery Cube, Disneyland, California Adventure Park, Universal Studios, Griffith Observatory, The Broad Art Museum, and a profoundly inspiring visit to the University of Southern California. Every destination offered powerful learning experiences. Each child received a small amount of personal spending money from a sponsor. It enabled them to purchase lunches, snacks and souvenirs. With cash in hand, a first for most of the kids, it taught them valuable lessons in money management. Each child was coached in planning and budgeting; adding daily expenditures and figuring out how much money they had left, assisting them to determine their spending priorities to make their money last the duration of the trip. Despite the excitement of the opportunity to make purchases
KE ALA KUPONO | The Worthy Path
This summer, IHS teamed up with several partners to provide a group of homeless and newly housed children, many of whom had never been on an airplane, with a truly life-changing experience.
Personal Reflection by Kimo Carvalho, Director of Community Relations I recently returned from a week-long trip to California that could become a model for IHS and other organizations to help end the cycle of homelessness for families by addressing the issue of generational poverty and its effect upon children. The idea for this trip began, like many of our programs have, from reflection upon the personal experiences of members of our own IHS staff. In this case, those experiences were my own. I had a dream when I was young to become a basketball player. I was a poor kid from Keeau. My biological mother loved me but suffered from meth addiction. My biological father was abusive and violent. I wanted to play basketball so badly that one day I asked my father how I could reach my goal. I was told that I couldn’t. I was told: “People like us don’t get there, manage your expectations because you’re not good enough for that.” In his view, the most our family could ever expect was to continue to live in poverty, barely pay bills, and sell drugs for extra cash. Like many troubled kids in dysfunctional families, I rebelled against my circumstances negatively. I started stealing. I didn’t own good clothes like other kids in school. I was the poor kid who was picked on. I stole a sweater and I got caught. This event changed my life. A juvenile court assigned me to perform community service, through which I was introduced to a social service worker from Queen Liliuokalani Children's Center. He opened my mind to options and opportunities that I could pursue. I took them. I began to believe that it was possible to achieve something more for myself, I even allowed myself to dream again of who I could become. After leaving my biological father’s home, I
turned my grades around and was able to attend college. After graduation I pursued a career path that has ultimately led me to IHS, where I now have the opportunity to help children and families escape the cycle of poverty and homelessness. We see so many bright and talented kids come through our doors. These are keiki who work hard to get good grades. They possess good values and are helpful with their siblings, parents and peers. Despite their circumstances, they are so loving and kind. Many still believe that they will never make it to college, that they will never be capable of reaching higher than their current circumstances. This trip to California was about far more than fun and Disneyland. The goal was to inject hope into the consciousness of these homeless children. I learned that Jordan Iosefa (56), Inside/Outside Linebacker for University of Southern California, once passed through Honolulu’s emergency homeless shelter system. Life gave him chances as well; he graduated from St. Louis School on a scholarship and is now a star college football player. USC faculty, staff and administrators from Hawaii came together to coordinate a visit for the kids to support and encourage them to believe that it is possible to pursue their dreams. Touring the college, playing on the field with the Hawaii athletes and hearing from the assistant athletics director that he wants to see them win were all magical moments that inspired each kid to pause, think and dream. Since the trip to California, these kids have been thinking and dreaming. We need to nurture these dreams. I am deeply grateful to those people in my life who inspired confidence in me and helped me to rise above my childhood circumstances. I am honored to have the opportunity through my work with
IHS to be a part of providing that type of encouragement and support to other children facing challenges. Mahalo for continuing to support the work that we do.
Director of Community Relations
DO N O RS $5 ,0 0 0 + APRIL 1 - JUNE 30, 2019 aio Foundation Aloha United Way Angela and Ernest T. Shiraki, Jr. Bank of Hawaii Betty F. and Shurei Hirozawa Disney Aulani Edward K. Conklin Ellen M. Koenig Memorial Fund of the HCF First Hawaiian Bank Friends of Hawaii Charities Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc. Hawaii Hotel Industry Foundation Order of Malta Western Association USA RMY Construction Inc. Southwest Airlines Stanley H. Uyehara The Queen's Health Systems Transcendence Pacific Vincent A. Occhipinti
To donate, visit IHShawaii.org/Donate or call (808) 447-2827.
SUMMER 2019 NEWSLETTER
Letter From Our Director
The resilience of our guests constantly amazes me as they journey forward to end their homelessness. The stars though are really the keiki, who greet IHS staff with smiles, and call out “Hi aunty!” and “Hi uncle!” as we encounter them in the hallway. Many people think of mentally ill adult individuals when they think of homelessness, but the majority of those experiencing homelessness are a part of a family. About half of all keiki who experience homelessness are 5 years old and younger. While you may not see them on the streets, they grace the halls of our shelter all the time. The infants sleeping in cribs in our guest rooms are living proof. Families we serve lose housing for many reasons. A layoff, an injury/illness with resulting medical bills, an unexpected family death, or just an unaffordable raise in rent can leave a family living on the streets or in a car, struggling to put their lives back together. This disruption to the routine of life affects children in many ways. Lack of a stable home life means daily living is a challenge; waking up for school, having a shower, preparing a meal, completing homework or even getting a good night’s sleep are all uncertainties. These disrupted activities mean missed opportunities to develop self-discipline and a healthy way of life. When the basics are absent, dreaming about your future is curtailed.
From the day a family arrives at our doors to seek emergency shelter to months beyond their stay, IHS works to restore structure and stability to family life. We move families back into housing as quickly as possible, and make every effort to equip them with skills, surround them with support, and create opportunities that prevent them from experiencing homelessness again. Our specialty at IHS is to customize service planning in order to meet a family’s goals for a brighter future. We also foster hope and confidence for each member of the family, both children and adults, and offer opportunities to learn competencies that lead to financial stability, employment, healthcare, healthy child development, and so much more. The goal is to create a strong foundation upon which a family unit can be rebuilt. Finally, our Children’s Program is a key to ending the cycle of homelessness, because a child who experiences homelessness is three times more likely to experience homelessness as an adult. By providing an environment that is safe, nurturing, and comfortable we are able to help children break that cycle by staying healthy, gaining confidence, developing a strong work ethic, and exploring the world around them for future success. We work alongside parents to understand how to best nurture their children with gentle guidance and structure, instilling values that lead to engaged citizenship in our community. I want to thank YOU, our IHS Ohana, for your partnership in our work to address the impacts of family homelessness in our community.
Mahalo for investing in our work by volunteering and giving, and for continuing to believe that change is possible. Please know that your investment in our Family Program is an investment in Hawaii’s future. Mahalo,
A former IHS family celebrates their success of finding permanent housing, and getting back into a normal routine.
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