Sharing Care With Helping Hands Hawai'i

Helping Hands Hawai'i is a vital community resource that aids thousands of local families annually.

helping hands ministry

Medically reviewed in December 2020

Every July, local keiki enjoy lots of warm sunshine and sandy beaches, but as the month draws to a close, the new school year looms. For many children, this means back-to-school shopping—picking out new pens, folders and notebooks to reflect their unique personality. Unfortunately, not all of our keiki have that option. Thousands lack the financial resources for even basic school supplies, which is why, each year, Helping Hands Hawai‘i (HHH) works hard to equip kids in need with educational necessities through its Ready to Learn program.

But Ready to Learn is just one of HHH's many initiatives. The community-based nonprofit provides a plethora of supportive services throughout Hawaii, focusing on three major divisions: human services, behavioral health and language access.

What is HHH?
HHH has deep roots in Hawaii. It began after the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor as a volunteer placement bureau and became incorporated as Helping Hands Hawai‘i in 1974. Now, communications and development specialist Dorian Nakamichi estimates HHH helps at least 30,000 people a year, which includes the 5,000 students served by Ready to Learn.

Ready to Learn falls under the human services division at HHH, along with the Community Clearinghouse, Adopt A Family, SNAP Outreach and Emergency Assistance Program. Among the services each program offers:

  • The Clearinghouse takes in donations from businesses and individuals then distributes items to referred clients free of charge.
  • During the holidays, Adopt A Family connects individuals and families in need with community donors who help brighten the season and inspire them for the new year.
  • The SNAP Outreach team helps people sign up for and maintain their SNAP benefits (formerly food stamps) to help them have enough to eat.
  • The Emergency Assistance Program, including its Native Hawaiian-focused Punawai Program, offers one-time financial assistance for housing or utilities to those in crisis who may be facing eviction or are already homeless and trying to get into permanent housing.

In addition to human services, HHH has divisions in behavioral health and language access. Behavioral health services include case management and representative payee services, both of which assist adults diagnosed with severe and persistent mental illness who may be struggling with poverty, homelessness and substance use. Language access is a unique division that is vital to Hawaii residents. Through the Bilingual Access Line, those with limited English proficiency can request interpretation or translation services. “We have about 19 languages that we serve 24/7,” says Nakamichi. Interpreters may help in medical, financial, educational or legal appointments.

HHH and Sharecare
With so many programs aimed to aid Hawaii residents, it’s easy to see how HHH touches tens of thousands of lives a year. Its critical mission and dedication to the community are why Sharecare and HMSA chose to partner with HHH as our first featured nonprofit in the Sharing Care initiative.

Nakamichi says that HHH takes a holistic approach to serving the community, which she feels the Sharecare app echoes in its holistic approach to health management. “It mirrors that kind of philosophy of having a whole spectrum of what can make you feel better and what will improve your health.”

If you’re in Hawaii and want to make a difference for HHH, the easiest thing to do is register for Sharecare and take the RealAge test. For every Hawaii resident who registers for Sharecare and takes the RealAge Test through November 30, 2018, Sharecare will donate $5 to Hawaii charities. From there, log your green days and for each green day earned, Sharecare will donate an another $1. At the end of November, all of the funds generated will be evenly divided between our five partner charities, including HHH.

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