Rebuilding their lives


POSTED: Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's been a rough two years in terms of rebuilding their lives since Doryne Sabanal's family was evicted from her mother's house two years ago.

“;It's been hard—with my mom kicking us out on the street with no money and no job,”; she said. “;I was working for her as a caregiver for my disabled brother. ... We didn't have anywhere to go.”;

About the same time, Sabanal's husband lost his job, so his mother opened her home to the couple and their four children until they found a place. Now the Sabanals are living at the Onemalu Transitional Shelter in Kalaeloa, and both are working.

But after paying for rent and household expenses, there is nothing left to buy clothes for the kids and a nice Christmas dinner, Sabanal said.

That's where the Star-Bulletin's annual Good Neighbor Fund comes in. The fund tries to bring Christmas cheer to people experiencing hard times through the Adopt-A-Family program and the Community Clearinghouse, which accepts donated clothes and household items year-round. Both are run by Helping Hands Hawaii.

Sabanal works two part-time jobs and started attending Heald College part-time in April. She wants to find work as an accountant one day.

“;It is so hard,”; she said about her family's struggle to find housing and employment and to keep up with the cost of living. She is proud to say, “;We're not living off of anybody.”;

“;We're paying to live here (at Onemalu). But everything is so expensive. It's a cycle of living paycheck to paycheck. With me working, we're hoping to get out of here. ... I'm not happy to live in a transitional shelter, but it's a place to stay until I rebuild my family's and my life.

“;I really don't want my kids to learn the experience of being homeless, but it's a good way to learn the way certain people are,”; Sabanal said. “;I don't have the best or perfect life, but I try to make do with what we have.”;

For Christmas, her young boys, ages 9 and 4, need clothes, but they'd also like to have adventure books and anything that has to do with cars. All the kids, including the girls, 13 and 7, could use a computer for schoolwork, she said.