Editor’s note: Each Wednesday, West Hawaii Today is publishing a story about individuals, groups or organizations that have helped make life better for others in our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Paul and Doreen Chinen of Holoholo Ministries, having a strong network of friends has made all the difference in providing meals to children in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I just went through friendships,” said Paul. “I contacted Habaneros because I’ve coached their kids and worked with them previously in sports. Cara and Armando Altamirano immediately jumped on. The other restaurant I’m in contact with is Quinn’s Almost by the Sea; my older daughter and their daughter grew up at the same time.”
When the pandemic hit, Paul – who is a board member for Kamaaina Hale – knew the affordable housing neighborhood would be among the hardest hit. With ample help from the community surrounding them, the Chinens have provided meals for 130 children three times a week since the end of March.
“Some young people from the University of the Nations help me go pass out food,” said Paul. “Everybody’s just been jumping on board.”
The goal has been more than just delivering a meal, however. Paul and Doreen wanted to make sure a sense of community remained, even in today’s age of social distancing.
“In the very beginning, it was very stressful and fearful,” said Doreen. “It’s not just dropping in, ‘Here’s your meal.’ It was more that there were actually people who care; we have a support system.”
“It’s more than just the food; I see these relationships being built,” added Paul. “It’s transformed from an apartment complex to a real family-oriented neighborhood.”
Holoholo Ministries has also worked to help out the first responders in various different ways as the pandemic has progressed. Sometimes it’s been taking smoked chicken to the fire and police departments; one weekend, they even arranged for Krispy Kreme donuts to be sent over from Maui.
Moving forward, Paul is focusing on setting up a free tutoring camp for kids during the summer months.
“According to how much the law allows, right now we’re doing groups of 10; I’m hoping it’ll grow to 50 by next month. I want to run a camp geared toward tutoring,” said Chinen. “We’ll do tutoring in the morning, do some activities around the island in the afternoon to get the kids with Hawaiian Studies actual hands-on stuff.”
He noted that during the pandemic, instances of domestic violence have been on the rise. The camp would aim to provide a dependable location for kids affected by domestic violence to go to.
“It would be a safe place for the kids begin to talk about what’s going on. As well as bring in outside resources to say, ‘You know, we don’t have to be stuck. We can grow from these things.’”
Those interested in helping can contact Paul Chinen directly or send inquiries to Holoholo Ministries at PO Box 4010, Kailua-Kona, HI 96745.
Know a Hometown Hero that should be highlighted next Wednesday? It can be anybody, from a youngster doing good for the community, to a professional helping with the COVID-19 pandemic, or even a kupuna! Please send your nominations to email@example.com with the subject: Hometown Heroes Nomination. Please include the hero’s name, contact information and what makes them a hero.