Donor offers hope
after senseless vandalism


Vandals have broken windows and ransacked eight vans used by Catholic Charities to transport senior citizens.

UPS and downs in the crime rate can be at least partially attributed to such factors as the levels of drug abuse and the health of the economy. No explanation can be ascribed to the senseless weekend smashing of windows and ransacking of the eight vans used by Catholic Charities to drive seniors to stores, medical appointments, meal sites and recreation areas. The anonymous contribution by a local businessman to pay for the repairs provided an uplifting act of altruism to an incomprehensible and vicious incident.

Most acts of vandalism -- property crimes with no economic reason -- can be attributed to certain other causes. Vandals who damaged Planned Parenthood's Honolulu offices in April can be presumed to be overly rabid opponents of abortion. Graffiti sprayed with enamel on walls and grave markers on seven Oahu cemeteries five years ago carried obscene messages with a racist theme. The breaking of windows and rummaging of the Catholic Charities vans, five of which are equipped for wheelchairs, carried no apparent message.

"This was pure vandalism," said Stella M.Q. Wong, executive director of Catholic Charities Elderly Services. "They didn't try to drive them away or anything. They just broke the windows and threw everything they could find on the ground."

The vans were attacked where they were parked under the H-1 freeway's Keeaumoku Street overpass sometime between 5 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday. Wong said the vans have been vandalized 10 times since 1996. Last weekend's window-smashing caused as much as $5,000 damage, about equal to each van's insurance deductibility.

Catholic Charities makes about 2,500 trips for about 500 seniors a month but the latest act of vandalism cast some uncertainty over its continued operation. "We have no funds to pay for this," Wong said soon after the incident. "We are on a tight budget. Passengers ride free or for a donation."

Enter a company president who offers to pay for the repair bill and wishes to be anonymous. The executive told the Star-Bulletin that he had "absolute disgust" when he learned about the vandalism directed at a charity that provides such a "wonderful community service" to senior citizens. "They do fine work ... They should be supported."

"It gives me back my faith in the community," Wong said of the man's generosity.

Older vans without air-conditioning and prone to mechanical problems will be used to transport the charity's clients during the week that the eight regular vans are under repair. Unfortunately, budget constraints may keep the charity from taking measures to make the parked vans less vulnerable to crazies.



Oahu Publications, Inc. publishes the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, MidWeek and military newspapers

David Black, Dan Case, Larry Johnson,
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Matsumoto, Jeffrey Watanabe,
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