View from the Pew
Church hosts haven for families
There's a rambling 60-year-old house in Honolulu that has been a haven for hundreds of women and children.
With the prosaic name Transition House, the home has been a launching pad for women who have left abusive spouses and are working toward sustaining their families on their own and claiming their self-esteem.
"For some women it's the first time they have lived on their own," said Dr. Michelle LaBotz. "It's a huge step for many of them." LaBotz chairs the steering committee for the Transition House.
The safe house was founded 14 years ago by Church of the Crossroads, a congregation with a history of translating Christian charity into social activism. It got help from other United Church of Christ congregations over the years. Last year, the entire Oahu conference committed to supporting the project as a ministry for families in transition.
LaBotz said there is a budget of about $60,000 for upkeep of the building, which is home to three families at a time plus resident manager Geraldine Kundis.
Some 103 families have sheltered at the house since church members opened their arms to the emotionally and often physically battered families, Kundis said. They are placed in the house by social service agencies.
Each family is limited to a six-month stay, "which gives the women time to gather their resources and reclaim peace for their families," LaBotz said. "It's literally a transition time. They come from an emergency shelter; they are past the stage of crisis. This is people making the next step.
"To stay here, women have made the choice to leave a domestic violence situation, they have made a commitment to leave an abusive partner," said LaBotz.
The occupants are not freeloaders. Each woman has to "demonstrate having some means of support," said LaBotz. "They pay rent -- it's very low -- and come up with enough to feed themselves." Some women receive government assistance, some are employed and a few are in school or job training.
The commitment by UCC church members is not just the money-in-the-collection-basket kind. Volunteers share their expertise when there is a plumbing problem or other upkeep need. There is an ongoing outpouring of clothing and food and children's things. For a household that might include eight children at any given time, someone should create a Disposable Diaper Ministry!
Next Saturday, the benefactors will add fun to their social activism. The annual Fall Fair at Church of the Crossroads, 1212 University Ave., will benefit UCC Transition House. The fund-raiser opens with a Poi Waffle Breakfast at 8:30 a.m. -- to continue until the last bit of batter is baked.
Numerous ways to make charitable giving a painless experience will be offered as the fair continues until 3 p.m. There will be musical entertainment, a silent auction and a rummage sale. Handcrafted items, plants, baked goods and a variety of food will be sold.
There is no rule whatsoever about paying more than the asking price on anything at the fair. Everyone knows where the money goes.