The holidays are a special time for Hawai‘i families. But for some seniors, the season can be one of the most challenging and difficult times of the year.
Many kūpuna live on fixed incomes and struggle to make ends meet. Some do not have the support of family and friends, and especially during the holidays, this isolation can make them feel alone and unloved.
Those with ‘ohana can feel the financial strain of the gift-giving season. Elderly parents caring for mentally or physically disabled adult children may find themselves unable to afford additional holiday indulgences.
During these times of need, Helping Hands Hawai‘i (HHH) helps to support seniors experiencing financial hardships. Every year, HHH’s Adopt A Family program connects seniors, and other low income or homeless individuals and families, with community donors who help uplift and inspire them while providing them with much-needed basic necessities.
This year, donors will adopt more than 600 households in need. Donors come from all over the island and from all walks of life. Their actions show hundreds of families that they are not alone.
“I think the community is not fully aware of how many seniors are in need,” said Amber Itokazu, a resource coordinator at EAH Housing (an affordable housing nonprofit), who works closely with many kūpuna.
One of these seniors is Gloria, who participated in the Adopt A Family program in 2015.
Gloria’s advice to other seniors struggling to make ends meet during the holidays is to ask for help. “Don’t assume that others know what you need or what you’re going through,” she said.
Gloria said the second step is to seek out support and “don’t give up until you find the program that best fits your unique situation.”
“Some seniors have the mentality that they are the forgotten generation, but they are not,” said Gloria. “Everyone needs to feel needed, wanted, cared about and that their lives do matter.”
“A lot of people don’t think of how much of an impact they can make,” Amber said. “To them, the gesture is so small, but to the person receiving, it is big.”
Together with generous supporters and donors, HHH continues to change people’s lives each year. Through partnerships with service providers and organizations, an increasing number of individuals learn about the community resources that are available to them.
During the holidays and throughout the entire year, remember that there are lonely seniors in the community who face constant financial strain.
Consider how you and your family can make a difference in a kūpuna’s life. Connect with a nonprofit in the community that supports seniors and help them in their efforts.
“Every little bit counts,” said Amber.