Hospitality worker rests easier with rental support

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Aloha United Way 211

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“Life was going well before the stay-at-home orders,” Sonia said. “I was making a good living as a restaurant server at two different places in Waikīkī.”

These days, Sonia who works in hospitality has been unemployed because the pandemic required local restaurants to close or greatly reduce their service. Sonia’s employers, who largely serve tourists, opted to close their doors in March rather than keep take-out services going.

When asked how she’d been coping, she said that it had been hard to be out-of-work because she’s been used to having two jobs for so long. “My parents instilled a strong work ethic in me, so I feel like something is wrong if I can’t work,” she continued. “Now, I make it a point to get outside every day because I have all this pent-up energy. I walk or ride my bike through Waikīkī. It’s nice to be outside, but it’s definitely eerie with everything shut down.”

Sonia has always been outgoing and she generally has an upbeat disposition ¬¬- but she doesn’t mince words. When asked why she reached out to the AUW 211 helpline several months ago, she was very clear. She called for financial help with rent and utilities because she couldn’t make ends meet if she didn’t have the income she usually makes as a server. “I am so thankful for what AUW has helped me with,” she said. “There are people who are worried about being evicted. Some are single moms who are afraid their lights might get turned off. I don’t have that worry right now and I have some peace of mind. I can almost forget there’s a pandemic if I don’t go outside. And I wish others didn’t have to worry either.”

So would she recommend that people who are suddenly out of work due to COVID-19 call AUW? “Absolutely. People don’t realize there is help available when they call 2-1-1. Rental help, food banks, even shelters for some people. And there’s no shame in reaching out. Everyone needs help sometimes…”

It’s a time of reflection and reevaluation for many, and Sonia is no different. “I think nature is rebounding and coming back stronger than before and people are like that too.” Sonia continued, explaining that she’s thinking about a career shift. Maybe she would try contact tracing… “I want to find ways to give back and make a difference. Giving helps others, but it helps the giver too.”

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