2021 Highlights at Helping Hands Hawaii

Like the rest of Hawaii, our team experienced highs and lows in 2021, but our wonderful volunteers, donors, community supporters, service providers and government partners helped us through it all.

Together our combined efforts helped more than 10,000 people overcome challenging times, inspired hope and provided them with the resources they needed.

For instance, our SNAP Outreach team connected with new and old partners to increase outreach efforts in the community. The continued need for nutrition assistance motivated staff to attended nearly 70 events, including 14 in new locations, to ensure more people could ask questions, get help with the SNAP application and follow up with their submissions. Staff helped nearly 500 households and submitted 285 applications to the Department of Human Services (DHS), who is responsible for approving SNAP benefits for households. Those we helped who received DHS approval of their SNAP benefits generated more than $812,800 in economic benefits within the local community when they shopped for groceries using their electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards.

Our Bilingual Access Line launched its online scheduling and meeting platform in July, increasing the number of available languages from 19 to 250+. Despite the Delta and Omicron variants, in-person requests remained the most popular at 58%, followed by phone appointments at 32%. Medical and healthcare situations continued to be the most popular use for interpreter services and made up 65% of all sessions. The top five requested languages were Korean, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese and Chuukese. For many people, language services was key to their ability to access help, connect with resources, maintain their housing and so much more.


Another vital service to the community was our Representative Payee program, which gave adults with severe mental illness reliable and consistent help managing their benefit funds. On average, staff oversaw the benefits for 674 people, including 29 on Kauai. They ensured that the clients’ bills were paid on time and they weren’t affected by loss of housing, medication interruptions, food insecurity and other situations that would create additional challenges for them. Unfortunately, we also experienced an unusually high number of clients passing away.

In our Community Clearinghouse, 45% of households accessing basic necessities were families with children, and the program gave away nearly 26,500 free household goods. Staff estimated that the value of in-kind donations from the community was nearly $65,000, and 98% of clients reported that this material assistance helped to stabilize their households. Families who receive services from this program are often living on extremely low incomes or benefits and desperately rely on items they get to sustain their families.

Seasonal programs operated out of the Community Clearinghouse included Ready to Learn and Adopt A Family. Ready to Learn supported the educational needs of 1,315 children statewide. About 75% of their families were impacted by the pandemic, making it hard for their parents to afford school supplies. More than 90% of their families said Ready to Learn alleviated some of the financial burden they were experiencing. The Adopt A Family program matched more than 340 donors with 535 client households to give them a brighter holiday experience. The holidays can be especially difficult for families struggling to make ends meet every day, but the support they receive from donors can create joyful memories that last a lifetime.

Lastly, for households with past-due rent/mortgage and utilities, our Emergency Assistance Program provided immediate financial relief. All of the families we helped reported that the assistance decreased their overall financial burdens, and about 76% of all applicants listed COVID-19 as the primary reason they fell behind on their bills.

The love showered on Helping Hands Hawaii by the community really made many of these wins possible. We are only able to help the most vulnerable populations because of the many helping hands in our community who give their support so generously. Mahalo to everyone who donated their time, talent or treasure to make Hawaii a better place.

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