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Nonprofits – October 7, 2020

Giving Comes Full Circle For This Waikīkī Nonprofit

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Waikiki Community Center continues to support clients, though their services have shifted to keep everyone safe during the pandemic. | Photo courtesy of Waikiki Community Center

“I know that Crystal is for everyone but I feel like she’s there just for me,” said Eline, a client of the Waikīkī Community Center(WCC).

Crystal has assisted Eline and her husband Felix with everything from organizing tax forms to sorting out medical bills. “Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know,” Eline said.

Before the coronavirus came to Hawai‘i, Eline and her husband—both kupuna—centered their lives around Waikīkī Community Center, where they made friends and took pilates classes. The organization’s mission is to care for our kupuna, keiki and community as ‘ohana and Crystal, the couple’s WCC Senior Assistance Coordinator, did just that.

However, life changed for Eline and Felix with the pandemic. All the Waikīkī Community Center clients stayed home to decrease their risk of contracting the virus. Eline didn’t expect a call from Crystal. But she got one.

“She asked me how we were getting our groceries,” Eline shared. “She wanted to check on Felix, too, because he has regular dialysis appointments.” Eline told Crystal that she and her husband tried to get groceries whenever they went out for doctor’s appointments to reduce the number of trips outside. “We have coupons we use at Farmer’s Markets so we can get really delicious produce. Felix likes oranges for his snack when he goes to dialysis.”

It turns out, Eline wasn’t sure what to do about Farmer’s Markets. “They were so crowded it wasn’t safe for us, especially with my husband’s system compromised.” So what did Crystal do? She told Eline about Farmer’s Markets that were serving kupuna, including one right at the Waikīkī Community Center later that week. Eline was thrilled. “It was so nice to finally be able to pick out groceries that are healthy and easily available. We didn’t have to worry as much about getting sick as we were picking up healthy foods.”

Aloha United Way’s workplace giving campaigns are a significant source of support for more than 300 local nonprofits like Waikīkī Community Center. These organizations have changed their activities to adjust to the pandemic and they are busier than ever supporting the community.

In a recent interview, Caroline Hayashi, President of Waikīkī Community Center stated that the organization operated with the belief that everyone needs help sometimes. And everyone can give sometimes. “With COVID, we all see how important it is that we take care of each other…It’s not really the amount that matters, it’s the act of giving during this time…feeling like you are empowered to help others.

“We have been a beneficiary of workplace giving campaigns for many years,” said Hayashi. In fact, generous workplace givers have enabled the center to help so many additional keiki and kupuna that “we decided to run a workplace campaign ourselves to give back as well, and participate.”

It’s clear that Waikīkī Community Center knows what “community” means. In the era of this “new normal,” Hayashi reflected on the interconnectedness of her organization’s clients and staff, like Crystal, with others in our island communities. “I am confident that as we work together, and take care of one another, we will emerge from this challenging time.”

If you want to start a giving campaign at your own workplace, it’s easy. Visit AUW.org/Together

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