YouthBuild Waimanalo began in Hawaii last year with a simple and immensely sensible mission:
“Find at-risk folks between the ages of 16-24 and help them get a GED (General Equivalency Diploma), along with “teaching them construction skills so they can get on a better path toward a successful life.”
No one came in thinking it would be easy, but its goals were clear and concise. Then life blurred the vivid picture in a surprising way.
“We learned our students were dealing with social service issues that needed to be addressed first,” recalled YouthBuild Project Manager Samson Malani. “Several of them were homeless and were coming to class without breakfast. They had no money to buy lunch.”
It was a profound problem, for the program and its participants. How could they focus if they were hungry? How could they fulfill their potential?
Fate — discovering Aloha Harvest — and a phone call brought Aloha Harvest and YouthBuild together earlier this year. Now this year’s class of about 30 students receives two food deliveries a week, each with 15 readyto-eat trays of food, plus drinks, soup, canned meats, bread and dessert.
It’s usually delivered by Aloha Harvest drivers Sini and George, whose amiable personalities are as eagerly anticipated as the food.
Every student — all live in Waimanalo — is fed.
“They eat breakfast and lunch from Aloha Harvest food,” Malani says. “Sometimes dinner, too, on days that classes run late. Aloha Harvest’s service of dropping off surplus food has been very helpful to us. Our youth are never hungry anymore. They know there will always be food here at our site.”
Ideally, those youth will go on to successful careers in construction or wherever they discover their passion. The next class will arrive next year and do the same, because the participants have the will and the wherewithal to succeed. “When we help students,” Malani says, “we also help their families and the Waimānalo community as a whole.”
Aloha Harvest is available to help any 501(c)3 non-profit organization on O`ahu with a feeding program. Agency applications are available online (alohaharvest.org) or by calling the office (537-6945).