Simbol stands in front of a portrait of the Rev. Claude DuTeil at the Institute for Human Services while IHS Executive Director Lynn Maunakea, background, speaks to others. DuTeil founded IHS in 1978.

25 years of helping those in need

A minister's legacy lives on in
the form of food and shelter at
the Institute for Human Services

In 1978, the Rev. Claude DuTeil served peanut butter sandwiches and coffee to the homeless from an abandoned building in Chinatown.

The Episcopal priest founded the Institute for Human Services, better known as the "peanut butter ministry," in July of that year.

Years later, his legacy continues to help many piece their lives together.

DuTeil, who died in January 1997, will be honored Tuesday at the 25th anniversary of the organization. The celebration will take place from noon to 2 p.m. at the men's shelter at 350 Sumner St. DuTeil's relatives, friends, legislators and community members are expected to attend. Frank DeLima and The Island Boys will provide entertainment.

"I think he would be amazed that it's still going and it's been going on for so long," said DuTeil's wife, Roberta.

DuTeil chose the name of the organization to fit the abbreviation IHS, short for Greek letters used to designate Jesus.

DuTeil battled bipolar disorder and coped with alcoholism, and later overcame both.

He wanted to give back to those who were not fit to care for themselves and started IHS, which helps many with mental illnesses.

Teresita, left, and Lose rest outside the shelter.

The Episcopal priest's "sparkly character" drew many to volunteer at the shelter, said his eldest daughter, Susan Langford. DuTeil also inspired tourists to volunteer at the shelter during their short stay in the islands, she said.

Steering clear of government funding, he relied on a team of family, friends and volunteers to operate the shelter. Now, the organization receives more than $3 million in private, state and federal funds. But state funding has been cut this year to $950,000 from $1.15 million a year due to the ailing economy, said IHS Executive Director Lynn Maunakea.

"We're going to be hard-pressed to make that up," she said.

Though DuTeil did not believe in relying on government funds to support the shelters, Maunakea said such funding is necessary to address the rising number of homeless in Hawaii.

A cap of 240 men and 60 women had been set at the shelters, with an estimated 223 men and 52 women staying at the shelter nightly. Between 35 and 50 families have been on the waiting list for a year at the family shelter on Kaaahi Street that houses up to 25 families, Maunakea said.

To help provide housing for the homeless, the organization recently started a program called Shelter Plus Care through the assistance of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

So far, the organization has obtained 22 vouchers that will help cover rent for individuals for five years. Maunakea said they had applied for an additional 30 vouchers.

"The answer to homelessness is a home," she said.

Langford recalled her childhood spent in a home where street people were always welcomed.

"I never knew who was going to be living in my room," she said. "He was always bringing home homeless people."

Maunakea said DuTeil remains an inspiration.

"His presence is definitely felt at the center," she said.

DuTeil's compassion for the homeless lives on in others, including his wife, children and grandchildren.

Langford said her eldest daughter, Kelly Doolittle, keeps a trunkload of instant ramen, apples, cheese-and-cracker snack bags and other goodies to hand to street people during her 75-minute drive to work in Boulder, Colo., where she teaches deaf children.

Langford's other daughter, Jenny, recently returned from a four-month trip in Hyderabad, India,  where she taught at an orphanage.

Both carry a little legacy of their grandfather, Langford said.


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