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StarBulletin.com

Small miracle


By

POSTED: Monday, May 11, 2009

Those closely involved with it call it “;the miracle on Kukui Street.”;

               

     

 

HARRY AND JEANETTE WEINBERG KUKUI CENTER

        » Open house: The public is invited, 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday
       

» Wish list: The center is in need of items posted at kukuicenter.org/index.php/our-wish-lists.

       

 

       

CENTER OCCUPANTS

        » Family Promise of Hawaii, serving homeless families with children
       

» The Consuelo Foundation, serving abused children

       

» It Takes an Ohana, supporting foster families

       

» Hawaii Immigrant Justice Center, providing legal services

       

» Kids Hurt Too, serving children who have lost a parent or sibling to death or separation

       

» Hawaii Foster Youth Coalition, supporting current and former foster youths

       

» Learning Disabilities Association of Hawaii, an advocate for special-needs children in the public schools

       

» Maximum Legal Services Corp., court-appointed advocates to serve as a guardian in certain cases

       

 

       

It is a novel complex of eight nonprofit agencies sharing resources at 245 N. Kukui St. to serve abused and vulnerable children and their families.

“;The business community did this,”; said Judy Lind, Kukui Children's Foundation executive director and the driving force behind the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Kukui Center. She said the building was renovated in a year, on budget and on time.

“;It's really good; the people are really nice,”; said Santini Tatasi, 19, of Chuuk, at the center recently with her 2-year-old son. Her sister Sanin, 22, also was there seeking help with daughters age 3 and 8 months.

“;I really like it,”; she said. “;It's very helpful.”;

News these days is “;all about things being cut, about what we don't have,”; Lind said. “;This is a counter-story. ... It's fabulous.”;

The project came together through small and large donations of goods and services worth more than $250,000, including free architectural and drywall services, plumbing supplies, murals, tile and plumbing, use of two cranes, paintings provided by Pegge Hopper and interior designer Mary Philpotts, plants donated by the contractor's wife and much more.

The Kukui Children's Foundation helped with equipment and furnishings. Architect Jim Reinhardt, a KCF board member, volunteered his time for two years, “;probably over 1,000 hours,”; Lind said.

The federal credit union next door had just built an addition and provided its soils report, needed for an elevator in the center, which saved $30,000, she said. Hawaii Self Storage offered free storage space to each agency.

“;The community continues to respond positively,”; Lind said, noting the center will be one of three beneficiaries of “;Hawaii Food & Wine Paradise,”; a golf and dining event May 21-24 at the Ko Olina Resort.

The building was purchased with $3.3 million from a community development block grant, and $445,000 was provided in federal funds for renovations.

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation provided $800,000 for renovations, and other foundations and corporations donated $775,500 to help the agencies meet program needs.

The Consuelo Foundation donated money for a playground, and a volunteer carpenter is building a stage for the Hawaii Foster Youth Coalition.

As part of the lease, the agencies had to sign a collaboration agreement to provide services to the others, Lind said.

As an example of the “;synergy,”; she said, the Hawaii Foster Youth Coalition needed a van to take Leeward families to the center. Family Promise of Hawaii offered two vans to pick up and return families to host churches.

Family Promise has lockers for parents, a laundry with donated front-loading machines and a solar water system with showers.

The agencies are grateful to be with other nonprofits, “;especially during these hard times, to know we're all in it together as a team,”; said Robin Kobayashi at the Hawaii Immigrant Justice Center.