Please remember this donation link: http://www.familyprogramshawaii.org. Clicking and donating here will help the hundreds of keiki in Hawaii’s foster care system.
Since 2012, I have been aware of the wonderful organization that is Family Programs Hawaii. I learned about the organization while I was in CASA training, and a representative came to speak with us. We were left with a flyer about the Holiday Party being held in December, and opportunities for sponsorship.
I went home that afternoon, showed the flyer to Wayne, and told him that we would be donating. Later in the fall, when the website was open for donations, we sponsored a $500 table, never knowing what precisely we accomplished.
Little did I know that my attorney (my mentor) on two of my CASA cases was a member of the Board of Directors. When we were at a hearing in January, she turned to me to thank me for sponsoring the table, and asked about how I found out about Family Programs. And then we resumed business as usual.
Fast forward to fall 2013, my first year of law school. I think the entire faculty and my fellow students knew why I was in law school - to give a better voice to children in foster care. Mei was still my attorney, and I donated again to Family Programs Holiday Party. Come January, she turned to thank me again.
Later in 2014, we went through two extremely stressful placement and termination of parental rights trials. It was exhausting, and I withdrew for a month from the CASA program, only to return more determined to help the children in foster care. And again, Wayne and I continued to sponsor a table at the Holiday Party.
In the New Year, Mei invited me to the Family Programs rebranding party, where the courtship to join the board began. Several iterations of my resume and months later, I was voted onto the board of directors. I was overwhelmed and ecstatic at the same time.
We sponsored another holiday party, and I attended for the first time with Wayne. It was amazing! I don’t think that I have ever seen so many children with looks of joy on their faces. For one child in particular, this was the first time she had ever received a wrapped gift. It tugged the heart strings.
Fast forward now to 2016. I have graduated law school, passed the bar exam, and was treading water while waiting to take the MPRE. I was approached by our then CEO/President, Paulette Bethel, and our existing Chair, Jeff Case, to take on the reins of Board Chair. After a bit of conversation back and forth, I agreed. I was nominated and confirmed in November 2016, with the Chair position to begin January 1, 2017. Wayne and I became Elf sponsors, and we attended again. This time, we got their early enough to do setup, and Wayne had the assignment to hand out stuffed animals to children and foster parents who filled out their commentaries. I should have taken pictures of some of the testimonials. We brought joy to over 1200 foster children that day, which is the one day a year many siblings get to see one another, as they are placed in different resource homes.
So here it is, giving Tuesday. Everyone is bombarding you with requests to donate money - Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the Hawaii Children’s Action Network. As am I. I have given small amounts to the other programs, but Family Programs Hawaii, and foster children, remain my passion in life. We have sponsorship levels for the holiday party ranging from tables to larger sponsorships. You can even click on the “other amount” section, and give a smaller amount. The money being brought in will be used next year to help these children and their families. And every penny counts.
So, on this giving Tuesday, I give because every child deserves a happy, healthy home. If this resonates with you, if you are able, please donate at http://www.familyprogramshawaii.org. The donate button is at the bottom of the page.
Mahalo nui loa.