Ewa Beach Steps Up To Fight Hunger

MidWeek Islander (West Oahu) - - Front Page - By SARAH PACHECO

Thanks to an ef­fort by the Hale Pono Boys & Girls Club, Hawaii Food­bank and var­i­ous Ewa Beach com­mu­nity mem­bers and or­ga­ni­za­tions, nearly 200 lo­cal se­nior cit­i­zens and fam­i­lies re­ceived free gro­ceries March 19 through the Ohana Food Dis­tri­bu­tion.

“To­ward the end of the month funds and food are scarce for many fam­i­lies in the Ewa Beach com­mu­nity,” said Frances Rivero, di­rec­tor of Hale Pono Club­house. “For those less for­tu­nate who won­der where the next meal will come from, the dis­tri­bu­tion will help.”

The dis­tri­bu­tion day, Rivero ex­plained, serves as cat­a­lyst to unite res­i­dents, com­mu­nity-based groups, pri­vate busi­nesses and non­profit ser­vice providers so that they can as­sess the needs of the com­mu­nity and for­mu­late strate­gies to meet those needs.

“As a fast-grow­ing com­mu­nity, Ewa Beach is fac­ing many im­por­tant changes,” added An­gela Dang, a vol­un­teer with EWA­lu­tion (for­merly the Ewa Beach Com­mu­nity Coali­tion), a part­ner­ship of more than 18 non­prof­its and pri­vate com-

pa­nies, or­ga­ni­za­tions and af­fil­i­ates that works on is­sues af­fect­ing youths and fam­i­lies in Ewa Beach.

Dang lists in­creased hous­ing costs and new res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ments as two dra­matic changes shift­ing the de­mo­graphic and so­cioe­co­nomic con­di­tions in the area. She also noted that a brand-new mid­dle school set to open in the fall and re­drawn school bound­ary lines also con­trib­ute to the tran­si­tions res­i­dents face.

“ Ohana Food Dis­tri­bu­tion and its vol­un­teers let the needy in our com­mu­nity know that they are very much an im­por­tant part of these changes and that their voices count,” Dang said. “We want to show them this by giv­ing them one day where they don’t have to worry about putting food on the ta­ble for their fam­i­lies.”

Ac­cord­ing to Rivero, the food bank do­nates about 10 pal­lets of fresh and canned food items to the dis­tri­bu­tion, which sees an av­er­age of 220 adults and 150 chil­dren go through its lines. Other con­trib­u­tors in­clude Aloun Farms, Costco and vol­un­teers.

The dis­tri­bu­tion be­gan in 2004 and takes place on the third Fri­day of ev­ery other month. Dis­tri­bu­tion dates are de­ter­mined the year be­fore and, once ap­proved by the food bank, the sched­ule is then cir­cu­lated among qual­i­fy­ing agen­cies, steer­ing com­mit­tee mem­bers of Ewa Weed and Seed and its part­ners — Coali­tion for a Drug-Free Hawaii, EWA­lu­tion, Gen­try Homes, Haseko, New Hope Chris­tian Fel­low­ship, Our Lady of Per­pet­ual Help, First-to-Work, lo­cal law en­force­ment, the mil­i­tary and stu­dents/staff from Ewa Beach and Waipahu schools.

“With these tough eco­nomic times, we agree that suc­cess can be achieved when var­i­ous pub­lic and pri­vate groups work to­gether to solve com­mu­nity prob­lems by shar­ing ideas, re­sources and time,” Rivero stated.

Proof pos­i­tive of this could be seen at the last dis­tri­bu­tion day in March, when Ilima In­ter­me­di­ate School Team 7-5, headed by teach­ers James Chong and Weyland Bai­ley, do­nated $200 to Hale Pono.

“Ilima usu­ally has two fundrais­ers a year, and they de­cided to do­nate some of what they raised to the Boys & Girls Club, as the or­ga­ni­za­tion has greatly helped the school and its stu­dents in the past few years,” ex­plained Dang, Amer­iCorps VISTA for Camp­bell Com­plex HI­DOE Vol­un­teers and Part­ners Pro­gram.

The next dis­tri­bu­tion drive is from 3 to 5 p.m. May 21 at Hale Pono Club­house gym, and Dang said do­na­tions and vol­un­teers are wel­come. Re­spon­si­bil­i­ties may in­clude sort­ing, or­ga­niz­ing and hand­ing out food items; as­sist­ing peo­ple, es­pe­cially the el­derly, in col­lect­ing food items; help­ing man­age lines for dis­tri­bu­tion; and clean­ing up af­ter the event is over. Rivero added that vol­un­teers are most needed to un­load the de­liv­ery truck, which ar­rives be­tween 1 and 2 p.m.

A free Ohana Bingo Night con­cludes each dis­tri­bu­tion. It be­gins at 6 p.m. and is open to all.

“Ewa Beach is tight-knit, con­vo­luted and di­verse, with peo­ple from all back­grounds and walks of life,” Dang said. “The well-be­ing of the peo­ple in our neigh­bor­hoods re­mains cen­tered in our com­mit­ment to our com­mu­nity, and I be­lieve events like the Ohana Food Dis­tri­bu­tion re­flects this.”

To as­sist in the dis­tri­bu­tion, do­nate items or for more in­for­ma­tion, call Rivero at 689-4182 or Ch­eryl Labuguen at 689-0267.

Da­tiva Caus­ing re­ceives a bag of free gro­ceries from Cher­ish Keaunui, 12, and Ewa Weed and Seed vol­un­teer Bev­erly Bumpers at the March 19 Ohana Food Dis­tri­bu­tion day, spear­headed by Hale Pono Boys & Girls Club, Hawaii Food­bank and var­i­ous Ewa Beach com­mu­nity mem­bers and or­ga­ni­za­tions. Photo by Nathalie Walker, nwalker@midweek.com.

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