Hawaiian Hope to open computer lab to public


POSTED: Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The lease is in place, the donated computers, office chairs and desks are all stacked up in storage, and the volunteers are ready to go.




Hawaiian Hope

        » Location: 611 N. King St.

        » Goals: Provide computers, technology, Internet access to the homeless

        » Assistance: To volunteer or donate computers, contact Curtis Kropar, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The only task before Hawaiian Hope, a tech-based nonprofit group, is to finish remodeling the empty space which, thankfully, also will happen with the manpower of volunteers.

If all goes as planned, Hawaiian Hope expects to open the doors to its public access computer lab at 611 N. King Street some time this month.

Hawaiian Hope's goal is to offer computer access to those living in homeless shelters. In today's world, after all, most job applications are now accepted online, and homework assigned with the assumption that students have a computer at home with Internet access.

“;There's a huge need, and we're working towards filling that need,”; said Curtis Kropar, Hawaiian Hope's executive director,

Kropar, a former IT specialist and software designer with more than 25 years of experience, is making it his mission to provide technology to those who don't have it.

That means refurbishing donated PC computers, hardware and monitors to build classrooms in homeless shelters, in addition to giving them away to families moving out of shelters. Hawaiian Hope also provides IT services to 10 homeless shelters on Oahu.

Many companies have been generous with computer donations — among them, the Wilson Okamoto Corp., Title Guaranty and MK Engineers. Within the last three weeks, the nonprofit received 300 computers.

Kropar himself was homeless at one time, having spent seven years living on the streets in Pennsylvania after his mortgage company failed to pay the taxes for his home. He owned his own business at the time, but lived in abandoned buildings and bathrooms to get out of the cold.

He says many of the homeless today are in the same financial straits — working, but homeless, and unable to get a rental because of bad credit.

Hawaiian Hope is applying for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, but is currently self-funded, according to Kropar. The group provides IT services for nonprofits for a fee, which help fund its mission.

The group also has 35 volunteers, such as Tino Balcito and Todd Adams, both self-taught techies. Daniel Victorino, David Narvaez and Brandi Kimura, who run a promotion company called Humble Soldiers Productions, also help out because they believe it's a good cause.

The public access computer lab, when open, will charge a minimal fee of $1 to $2 per hour. There will be a classroom, volunteer technicians on hand, and coffee. But Kropar's looking for more volunteers, and welcomes Home Depot gift cards to help finish remodeling.