Hula Bowl fundraiser boosts transitional housing program
A financially troubled transitional housing program in Waipahu is getting a helping hand from the world of college football.
"If we don't raise funds, our doors could close," said Gary Shields, executive director of Victory Ohana Prison Fellowship Inc.
To the rescue: the Cornerstone Hula Bowl, a postseason invitational football game for college all-stars to be held at Aloha Stadium on Jan. 12.
Victory Ohana is selling tickets to the Hula Bowl for $20 each. Half of the cost of each ticket sold will go to the faith-based, nonprofit program, which has two sites in Waipahu, one for men at Pupuole Place and the other for women at Kahuamoku Street. The four- to eight-month residential program assists those released on parole, recovering drug addicts and those dealing with limited mental impairment.
So far this week, Victory Ohana sold 100 tickets. The goal: at least 5,000.
This is Victory Ohana's first major fundraiser to help offset its debt. According to Shields, the facility is "hundreds of thousands" of dollars in the red.
"We're hurting more than I can say," he said.
Through a friend, Shields contacted Nick Logan, owner of the Atlanta-based Hula Bowl, to see if he could help.
The Hula Bowl, which has the same ticket deal with the Rotary Club of Honolulu and Big Brothers Big Sisters, added Victory Ohana to its list.
Part of the program's problem is low occupancy, Shields said. Fewer than 50 clients reside at the facilities, which have a total of 150 beds -- 126 for men and 24 for women.
The monthly rent for clients is $400, but it is not enough to cover operational costs, estimated at $40,000 for the men's and women's facilities combined. The program is also receiving money from the Department of Public Safety, for a total income of less than $20,650 a month.
At least 50 more clients are needed to meet the bottom line, Shields said.
Last summer, Victory Ohana obtained its conditional-use permit by the city for its men's facility on Pupuole Street, where the facility has been located for the past several years. The facility then obtained its therapeutic-living program license, which went into effect June 20. The men's facility was previously located in Iwilei.
Victory Ohana is operated by 20 volunteers, some of whom have been working with Shields for more than 10 years.
Anyone interested in purchasing Hula Bowl tickets from Victory Ohana may call its administrative office at 671-7800.