Aloha United Ways Local social service agencies are scrambling to aid the thousands laid off or furloughed since Sept. 11 and are asking Hawaii to turn its heart homeward.
urges isle residents
A drop in giving since Sept. 11
sets back the annual fund drive
By Lisa Asato
"We don't need to look to the mainland to see the tangible impact of this national crisis," said Roger Dickson, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross Hawaii chapter. "It's affecting local people, your neighbors, your kids and probably you, and those needs need to be addressed here by local agencies, agencies that couldn't go forward without Aloha United Way."
Dickson spoke yesterday at an AUW news conference announcing that the organization has extended its annual fund-raising campaign to Nov. 30.
The AUW, which funds 68 agencies statewide, projected it will fall $1.7 million short of its $13.6 million goal, meaning potential cuts in services just as demand is taking off.
"The safety net of agencies that help people in times of crisis is definitely being challenged," said attorney Gary Slovin, chair of AUW's fund-raising campaign. "One out of every two people in this community is served by an AUW agency -- that's in good times."
He said the AUW hopes to cover the shortfall primarily through workplace campaigns, a major source of revenue for AUW.
In Hawaii, 30,000 people are expected to lose their jobs by the end of the month, putting a crunch on agencies for help with food, clothing, mortgage, rent and medical care, said Maj. Ralph Hood, division commander of Salvation Army for Hawaii and the Pacific Islands.
Donations to Aloha United Way may be made through Nov. 30 by:
How to help
>> Sending a check to Aloha United Way at 200 N. Vineyard Blvd., Suite 700, Honolulu 96817.
>> Participating in a workplace campaign. Campaigns may be set up by calling 536-1951.
>> Going online at www.auw.org
Hood said his agency has fielded a 120 percent increase in calls, many of them first timers, in the weeks immediately following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
He called the situation a "monstrous financial tsunami," and said Hawaii can expect another wave to hit in the next six months as about 3,000 families lose their welfare benefits and have to look for work when many are losing their jobs. That picture is further complicated by the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, he said.
Speakers yesterday agreed that job losses are usually coupled with a rise in social ills such as domestic violence, drinking and crime.
This is Hawaii's chance to save "family after family with great dignity," Hood said.
David McCoy, chairman of the AUW board of directors, said the agency met its goal last year, the first time in six years. Until Sept. 11, the AUW was on track to meet this year's goal, he said.
Earlier this year, the AUW's Pacesetter campaign surpassed its $1.7 million goal in five weeks.
The giving, however, has been complicated by various factors. Some companies that have contributed in the past said they won't give this year because of the attacks. And the workplace campaign -- which usually accounts for 80 percent of donations -- has fallen off 15 percent partly because the employees the program depends upon are losing their jobs, McCoy said.