What To Do For the Homeless in Hawaii

Grey Skies Through the Homeless Person's Eyes

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Looking for Hope for the Homeless

Only a couple of years ago, before the financial crisis hit the nation, I believed there was a misconception about the homeless. In some areas of the United States, there still is this misconception: Homeless people don't want to work. That's why they are not working. They just don't want to; hence they are homeless. This is the narrow way of thinking some people have on the subject.

I have thought about this stereotyping dilemma for some time. I've written to the editor of the Maui News with some ideas and I hoped a few social workers on the island would chime in with suggestions, but there were no responses to my letter. Most of the letters to the editor in those months involved the Furlough Fridays the Governor of Hawaii had imposed on our school children. People were up in arms that school children were going to miss many Fridays so that the state government could balance their budget a little better. But what about the homeless children who live on the beach? Isn't that a bigger problem?

And what about the homeless veterans? I know several veterans who live in nice houses on our street. Each own a fancy truck and a big bike. I'm happy for them. I know of a few other veterans who live down the hill in the forest on the left side of the road. I have only spoken with them a few minutes each time we've seen each other. They were entering the forest or exiting the forest when I have been putting water down for the junglefowl near the edge of the roadway. These men are Vietnam veterans. Yes, they have alcohol and drug dependency problems, but that is not surprising considering the lack of support they have received since returning from their tours of duty.

There is a new generation of homeless, too. Many of the homeless men and women I have spoken to during the last year are in their early twenties. My first thought when I meet a young homeless person is, "Where is their mother?" But that's an emotional reaction. When I have thought about the situation analytically, I have thought how difficult, how almost impossible, it is for a homeless person to line up a job interview and get himself or herself there, looking presentable. It takes more faith than 99.9% of working people can muster -- if they were in the same situation, I would bet -- except I'm not a betting person.

I’m talking about the every day kind of faith which a person requires to get up in the morning from a nice, clean bed; face the day, wash one’s face, eat breakfast and go to a workplace which might not ignite their interests, but provides a wage or salary. All of that is hard enough even for those of us who have a roof over our heads at night, warm water when we want to bath, and food in our refrigerator.


Homeless People Face Challenges You or I Might Not Surmount

Homeless people have to get a resume prepared without owning a typewriter or computer to do so. They do not have cell phones so they cannot put a phone number on the resume – if they manage to get a resume prepared by someone else. They don't have a lot of money to pay someone to prepare a resume for them. They need to rely on the kindness of others and that takes kindness and patience on their part. How often do they feel like just giving up and not hoping for kindnesses any longer?

Another big challenge for them daily or at least a few times a weeks is they need to get themselves to a public bathing area. This is especially so when they hope to attend a job interview.

I’ve known some homeless people who wash their clothes and their body under the shower at the same time -- at the beach showers. Initially, when they arrived homeless at the beach, they had a small suitcase or briefcase and extra clothes. Soon they had only the clothes on their backs.

Many homeless people want to work. They dream of being self-sufficient again. But they cannot see how to attain their goal. They are surrounded by other people who are in the same circumstances. Their hope has dissipated. After weeks and then months pass, each homeless person handles life in whatever way they can, trying to stave off despair. For example, here in Hawaii the climate is agreeable, but the centipedes are huge. How can any of us know how we personally would handle sleeping night after night on the dirt with huge bugs crawling over us? In these peoples' attempts to handle life, many of them become addicted to drugs.

What if a whole network of social agencies worked together? They could solve some of the problems I have listed. Social workers could fan out every morning at the parks and the beach, find homeless people who are coherent and who want help. Those homeless persons could be asked to take part in an agenda to get their lives back on track. With hope restored to them and a helping hand guiding them into drug rehabilitation and shelters, most homeless people would strive towards getting a job.

Given half a chance, that's what would happen. Yes, sir.

I wish I could look through those rose-colored glasses I used to wear when I really hoped and believed all of this. This past year, I've lost my glasses. These days I hardly know what to say to a homeless person. I have no hope to offer them and I see no long-term solutions. I'm honing my listening skills, though. Some homeless persons have a lot to say. Every one of them is a character -- unique -- just like you or me. Still, there must be somebody among the population who can say, "I know what we can do for the homeless in Hawaii. Listen, I have a solution."

Hey! They probably have my glasses!


Video on Homeless People of Hawaii

© 2010 Pamela Kinnaird W

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Comments 27 comments

Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 2 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Very interesting comment you've made. I think there may be instances where people actually want to stay homeless, but most of those cases are not necessarily the people who have options left. They don't have their physical health or mental health at an optimum level. Thanks for commenting, Pavlo Badovskyy.


Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

Pavlo Badovskyy 2 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

Interesting hub! But I believe it would be too difficult for a homeless person to return to life other people live. It is often a style of life , that is why the often do not want to change it into an other one. Exception - those who became homeless just not long ago and still fights "to get out of the pit"


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

kelbethc, yes, as you've pointed out the power is with people to do their best to help. There are so many good people and organizations that do help the homeless in many ways in most of the big cities but with the economy the way it is, the problem is growing. Thank you for your comments.


kelbethc profile image

kelbethc 4 years ago from Rural Indiana

Orioleorange, that's the most likely thing to actually help someone. I have personally done so a handful of times and all but once it worked out and that person got back on their feet. Most people are too scared to do so, ("oooh icky homeless person probably will steal from me and do drugs, maybe rape me")...see the problem? Preconceptions! Pamela: I was writing to say wonderful! I wrote a similar hub a year ago and just now saw your own. It's a terrible situation and it won't change until people rise up and do it themselves and stop waiting for some agency, or the government, to do it for us. Much love..Kellie


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Thanks for reading this hub and leaving your thoughts on the plight of the homeless.


John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Hi Pamela, and what an exceptional hub this is. You hit the nail on the head.

Yes, for those of us who can remember, homelesness was very rare back in the 70's and early 80's. I was having breakfast at a McDonalds this morning and was surrounded by so many homeless, I couldn't believe it. This has become a plight. I do what I can to help from time to time, but it's not enough. We need to do more---much more!!!

Voted up

John


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

kikalina, thank you.


kikalina profile image

kikalina 4 years ago from Europe

Its hard for me to understand how in this day and age there are homeless people. Excellent hub!


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Keri, thank you. You're so kind to notice. And I like your perspective that even if we cannot personally see changes happening we can be a voice for the cause in any case.


Keri Summers profile image

Keri Summers 4 years ago from West of England

I've just read this Hub for the first time Pamela, it's phenomenal. It's so frustrating that people insist on making the homeless problem more complicated than it really is. It's very convenient to take an attitude than homeless people "can't be helped" or do not want it. The world needs idealists who refuse to complicate it and just want to see things get better, but it can be a frustrating place to be. Please don't give up, dust off those spectacles! Sometimes I accept that although things are unlikely to happen fast, being a voice for the causes anyway, is important. Even to keep things on the agendas is a help. But it does take emotional energy. PS: On a much lighter note have you changed your avatar photo? I liked the other one too but I like your hair in this!


BetteMachete profile image

BetteMachete 5 years ago

I have written several articles about the way people perceive homeless people, and people write me notes about them all the time. It can be a controversial topic. I just hope that the people who read your articles and mine will be able to see that it isn't easy being homeless and being able to get a job, it can be damn near impossible.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 5 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Thank you, ShyeAnne.


ShyeAnne profile image

ShyeAnne 5 years ago from Deep Bay, British Columbia, Canada

You give the gift of listenig Pamela, to me, that is a precious gift. There is a small contingent of homeless people on Quadra Island. As I mentioned in my piece on Quadra Island, there are many personal supports in place, created by the more fortunate residents, to help with food, blankets, etc. Regardless how kind one may be to a homeless person, their daily challenges far surpass mine.

Thanks for the good read. Make it a great day.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 5 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Knightheart, I love that scripture in Matthew 25. Thanks for bringing it up and for reading this article.


Knightheart profile image

Knightheart 5 years ago from MIssouri, USA

Thanks for shedding more light on this massive problem our country has. When I think of the money wasted by government while people like these suffer is absolutely unacceptable. In God's Word, it plainly states that caring and helping for the poor, widowed, orphaned, etc. is honoring God! And, it also states that whatever is done to one of these, is like doing it to our Lord Jesus! God Bless you!


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 5 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

KoffeeKlatch Gals, I agree -- it is a growing problem and the solution is elusive. That's the saddest part of it -- when children are homeless and without the basic necessities in life.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

Pamela, homelessness is a problem that too many people seem to blame on the homeless peson. True, in some cases, the people who is homeless is directly responsible. But what of the ones who are their because of bad circumstances. One day they seem to be doing fine and the next days they have no job, no insurance, one of their little family end up in the hospital or with a chronic illness. What are they to do. They end up out on the street with those who do no wish to work evewn though they wuold work if they could. I have seen the effects of this eceonomy on the children in our school. You would be shocked to know how many of the student are labeled homeless. It's a growning epidemic. I don't know what the solution is but we sure need one. Great hub.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 5 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Patdmania, Thanks for reading.


patdmania profile image

patdmania 5 years ago from waterford, mi

Very good hub! People are all homeless for different reasons. Ill tell you what, if i was homeless i would want to be in Hawaii.


orioleorange profile image

orioleorange 6 years ago

What a sad state of affairs. I hope this aticle causes more empaty toward he homeless. It does for me. I don't know what to say about solving this problem. Wouldn't it be great if capabe families around the island took one person in at a time? I know, rose-colored.


Shane Belceto profile image

Shane Belceto 6 years ago from WA USA

At first I would not think of a place like yours with a problem of people experienceing homelessness ... however after heading a youth mission trip to Seattle last month like you my glasses are too gone. We set out to do more then just feed them some meals and found as you shared they have so many day to day things to get through that so many of us hav eno clue. My few days with them did open my own eyes and those of the youth I was with and we now wish to do more and more as we can. Thank YOU for this great HUB.

~Expect Miracles

Oh P.S. one of the things we did on our Seattle mission trip was create and hand out 200 kits in one gallon xip lock bags that had nearly 30 items in them ecential to people like toothbrush, emergentcy blanket, socks, pin and notepad, etc. Does help a tad.


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

MakeMoneyGoal, thank you. I don't have any answers. I see more and more sad situations. These are human beings that need help so they should be our first priority -- ours and the government's -- and private institutions' first priority, too.


MakeMoneyGoal profile image

MakeMoneyGoal 6 years ago from Edinburgh

Hi Pamela,you made me look at this issue from a whole new perspective, in their shoes! Excellent writing and empathy. Voted up.


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Pamela you have written a hub that should get everyone to look at their own judgmental preconceptions. Homelessness is a real problem, and a growing problem as the global crisis bites and austerity measures are called for. I think governments have no clue and no will - it will come down to churchs and communities and those individuals like you have taken off the rose colored glasses.


alternate poet profile image

alternate poet 6 years ago

Nice sensible and straight forward hub - good thinking!


Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona Author

Thank you. I haven't learned about Stumble and Digg yet. Thanks for the encouragement.


fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 6 years ago from Southern California

What a powerful hub! This is one that you should have printed in the Newspaper. I'm going to Stumble and Digg this one. Very, very good Pamela. Welcome to HubPages.

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