Strong ties and meal-deliveries make all the difference

Lanakila Meals on Wheels has provided an important service for local kupuna

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For years, Lanakila Meals on Wheels has provided an important service for local kupuna—a wellness center offering social and physical activities for active seniors. They also provided a hot lunch in the middle of the day, with the opportunity for everyone to socialize and make friends. “I liked going to the Lanakila Kupuna Wellness Center because I like to mingle with other people,” said one participant named Maxine. “I like to talk to the others, especially the ones who are older than me because they can share their mana’o to us.”

When you talk to Maxine it’s clear that she loves getting out and enjoys interacting with people. “We [used to] have the activities with Catholic Charities, they would take us on outings. Like to the bowling alleys. So good.”

Natsue, another Lanakila Meals on Wheels client, enjoyed the activities and games she could play with her friends at the Kupuna Wellness Center. “Well, I liked it because it gave me a reason to get up and go,” she said before listing scrabble, cornhole and laughing with friends as her favorite pass-times. “We’re all jolly people! Always laughing!”

But everything changed when COVID-19 came to Hawai‘i. Lanakila Kupuna Wellness Centers were closed for the safety of local seniors and staff. Since then, the organization has shifted to deliver meals to many of the seniors' homes as well as set up grab-n-go sites so they can stay connected, facilitate social distancing for their clients, and continue to provide some social support while providing meals.

Natsue has been grateful for Lanakila Meals on Wheels’ staff and volunteers who bring her meals, reducing the number of times she needs to leave her home. Maxine has appreciated the meal deliveries as well. “I think they’ve been very helpful. And it’s not just the Lanakila itself, it’s the volunteers that make Lanakila. What makes Lanakila is the people that work for them,” Maxine continued. “I find more malama when I talk to them. You know we’re outside with our masks on to be safe, but we still talk.”

Each year, Aloha United Way provides Safety Net funding to agencies working to provide basic human needs and support people experiencing crisis. In 2020, we have invested $1 million into 30 programs that are working in the following five areas of need:

1. Disaster/Crisis
Provides a broad range of assistance for individuals and families experiencing crisis with a goal of returning the household to stability. The category includes medical care, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, family violence services and community disaster response provided as one-time or short-term assistance, but may also include ongoing counseling, case management or care coordination.

2. Food

Provides access to food pantries, food banks, food delivery services and served meals programs.

3. Rent/Utility

Provides rent (or mortgage) and utility financial assistance.  Agencies may pay rent, security deposit, mortgage, and utility expenses to landlords or providers on behalf of eligible clients.

4. Shelter

Provides housing and related support services including emergency, transitional, and permanent housing.

5. Two-year Grants
Supports startup or pilot programs; programs/services with a higher degree of complexity; initiatives with a greater number of stakeholders or partners; initiatives that require substantial time planning; and new programs that are projected to be financially self-sustaining after the initial two years.

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