Tikkun Olam Opportunity This Month

By Kay Lorraine

For the past 13 years, you have been listening to me beg, cajole, guilt, and encourage congregation members to volunteer for Family Promise. It occurs to me that some of you many not fully understand what this is all about.

We are all aware that Hawaiʻi has one of the nation’s worst homeless problems. Suppose there was a program that had an 88% success rate every 9 weeks – wouldn’t you want to participate? Family Promise tackles the issue of homeless families (with children) by providing shelter, meals, transportation, case management, job training, assistance with Section 8 housing applications, and intensive stabilization services. These families are carefully vetted. They must be free of drug and alcohol abuse. No family member may have an untreated mental illness or a violent criminal record. All of the adults must be willing to work and motivated to seek permanent housing. And it works! More than 88% of families in the Family Promise shelter program find permanent housing in less than nine weeks!

I have been personally working with Family Promise since Spring of 2006, when the program first came to Oahu. For over 6 months, I supervised the FP Center in Kailua every single Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. A second branch of the program began in central Honolulu in December of 2006, and I was proud that Congregation Sof Ma’arav was one of the first religious congregations to volunteer. Since we have no facility of our own, and the Unitarian minister assured me that they were unable to allow us to host the families in their building, we partnered with Temple Emanu-El and have been successfully participating ever since.

There are three ways to help:

  • Participate in set up on Sunday morning. This takes anywhere from 2 hours (if there are only a few volunteers) to as little as 45 minutes (if there is a large group of volunteers).
  • Provide dinner on one evening. This requires that you prepare a meal for no more than 14 people (usually about 6 adults and 5-7 children). You bring the meal to Temple Emanu-El, serve it buffet-style in the social hall, and clean up afterward. It takes about 3 hours.
  • Stay overnight on a mattress in the Temple Emanu-El library, in case there is an emergency with one of the families. The next morning you set out the breakfast cereal and fruit and put it away after the van has picked everyone up.

I strongly suggest partnering with a friend. My BFF, the endlessly lovely Bernice Littman, and I have been doing this since the program began. We get to spend the evening together, which is always a treat (at least for me), and we perform a mitzvah for the families. When Bernice is in England (as she will be during this next FP rotation), my husband, Brad Bate, helps me cook and clean. Fran Margulies and Sally Morgan have been partnering for meal preparation for years now; and I am told that Don Armstrong and George Hudes play chess until deep into the night. Others who have participated in this effort are Sandy Armstrong, Marlene Booth, Ken Cohen, Don, Melissa & Caroline Edelheit; Judy Goldman, Gayle Goodman, Pam Kosansky, Daniel Lev, Naomi Olstein, Alis Rasmusen, Gary Rosenthal, Mat Sgan and Gin (forever missed) Sgan; Avi Soifer, Shawn Steinman, Margie Walkover, Al & Trudy Wong; and Dina Yoshimi. To those who have stepped forward, a million mahalos. And if I have forgotten anyone, mayn noz zol vaxn azoy fil hor es strains meyn zup.

Please contact Kay Lorraine if you would like to learn more about how to volunteer for the upcoming Family Promise rotation, July 28 – August 4.

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