37 percent of Hawaii’s population live just above the poverty level. Many are doing everything they can to make ends meet, yet struggle to get by each month. To help those in this difficult position, Aloha United Way partners with Hawaiian Community Assets to come up with long-term solutions for families living paycheck to paycheck.
Hawaiian Community Assets works with low and moderate income communities to help both individuals and families become financially stable.
“We especially focus on Native Hawaiians,” explains Jeff Gilbreath, executive director at Hawaiian Community Assets. The non-profit uses a holistic approach, Kahua Waiwai, which means “Foundation for Wealth.” Its programs include housing and financial education workshops, individualized counseling, tax preparation, loans, and savings accounts. Aloha United Way helps to provide the funding for these services.
“This year, we received a grant to broaden the scope of services specifically to help prevent hardworking people from slipping into the federal poverty level,” says Gilbreath. “We can’t do what we do without the support from Aloha United Way. Working together is how we will create long-lasting change in our communities.”
Before Michele Nakapalau connected with Hawaiian Community Assets, she was addicted to drugs, had spent time in jail, and was living on the streets. The nonprofit helped to turn her life around, allowing Nakapalau to put herself through school and earn a degree in Human Services.
“I was struggling to recover from my addiction and deal with mental illness and physical disability,” Nakapalau says. “The support of my counselors such as Shyla at Hawaiian Community Assets helped me to find a better path.”
Aloha United Way has been investing in Hawaii for 100 years and is proud to support more than 300 nonprofits, like Hawaiian Community Assets, that do exceptional work in the community. Aloha United Way aims to help these organizations amplify their reach and impact and continue to provide critical services that help people achieve a better quality of life.
“Our goal is to not only to support programs that help people in need today, but look for long-term solutions. We bring resources, organizations and people together to tackle root causes of the most pressing issues in Hawaii,” says Norm Baker, chief operating officer at Aloha United Way.