Regina Sugui knows what it is like to be homeless. After a divorce, she and her two children lived in a homeless shelter in Waianae.
Advocate for homeless
honored for charity work
By Leila Fujimori
But now Sugui volunteers her time to help those in need. She has been working for five years as an administrative associate for Education Works, a division of Servco Pacific Inc.
Servco has named her its 2001 Outstanding Volunteer.
"I wanted to give back to the community, and that's where my heart was," she said. "There was a time when my children and I went through a crisis and we lived at a shelter."
The 38-year-old single mother of two boys, 18 and 8, volunteers with Hawaii's Homeless Women and Children Crisis Intervention, where she serves as a board member. Servco Foundation donated $5,000 to the organization.
The Waianae woman's giving began after she held weekly Bible studies at her home. She asked her study group if they wanted to join her in doing outreach work, distributing food and clothing to the needy.
They began at the Good News Thrift Store in Waianae. But when the warehouse closed down, Sugui pushed to have the program continue on the beach in Makaha.
Together with Hawaii's Homeless Women and Children Crisis Intervention and volunteers from her church Paradise Chapel, and Hope Chapel, the outreach program continues.
The group ministers to the poor and needy, as well as single women with children, with songs, dance and skits held every third Saturday. Food and clothes are also given away on these occasions. A Thanksgiving meal will be served Saturday.
"What I went through could happen to anybody," Sugui said. "I had a good-paying job at the bank prior to me going through all of this. My marriage fell apart. My son got sick. I had to stay home. My life was just a turmoil.
"I know that the only way I could have come out of this is through the strength that God gave me," Sugui said.
Servco also awarded $3,000 each to two second-place winners. Ken Alagan works with Ready to Learn, which provides school supplies to needy children. Julian "Kaipo" Pereza volunteers with the Kaneohe Seventh-day Adventist Church's Community Action Network Food Pantry, helping cook and serve meals to the homeless for the past three years.
Third-place winners, whose organizations will receive $1,000 each, were Dexter Kakazu, a volunteer with the Optimist Club of Honolulu, and Luana Kaio, who works with the Koolau Bobby Sox.