Church celebratesAt an early Thanksgiving lunch held at a Waipahu church yesterday, givers and receivers were thankful not just for the meal they shared, but for each other.
The ministry's special lunch unites
members and the community
By Leila Fujimori
Zella Hawthorne, 54, who suffers from debilitating health problems, visited with young people from the Lighthouse Outreach Christian Center who help her with household chores.
Though she lost her job 14 months ago and her unemployment was cut off several months ago, she was smiling because of one 21-year-old who has become like a daughter to her.
Rosalia Paleaale, who left a rebellious street life of drugs and drinking, counts helping others as a blessing, not a burden.
"It's something that uplifts you," she said. "It's God's great commission to show the love, not just talk about it."
"If it wasn't for this, I wouldn't have met Zella," Paleaale said.
Hawthorne and several youngsters who live on Awanei Place flocked around Paleaale, who brought them to the lunch for homeless, low-income and single-parent families.
About 500 people attended the Waipahu event, one of many sponsored by the Ko Olina Resort & Marina at locations from Waianae to Pearl City.
The Lighthouse Outreach ministry supplemented the resort's 300-plus turkey and ham plates and 60 pies with 650 hot dogs and sandwiches. McDonald's and Jack in the Box restaurants provided 550 chicken sandwiches.
The outreach center provides food, furniture and other assistance year-round to those in need, and often drawing them to the church.
"I just gave my life to the Lord," said Raylene Delgado, 31, who lost her job after tearing ligaments in her right knee.
Her husband is in a drug treatment program.
Two daughters live with foster families. One son lives with her mother.
"My family has gone through a lot and we're trying to rebuild our lives," she said. She's thankful for the assistance of furniture the center has given her.
She got her high school diploma in May and is receiving certified nurse's aid training at Leeward Community College.
"I'm able to walk in the right direction," Delgado said.
The Lighthouse Center draws many young people, who sang and danced on stage to spiritual songs as well as popular music yesterday.
The center's gym provides a safe gathering place for children and teens, and is open to the public. "We keep kids out of trouble," said Lomi Tamapua, 37, whose 12-year-old son Maluina got him to quit drinking and drugs for God two years ago.
"When I first got saved, my son told me, 'God answered my prayers,'" he said. Family members say they are now united in their worship and have helped two other families join.
Now Tamapua is out helping the needy in his neighborhood.
"You'd be surprised how much people are hungry out there," he said.