Kalihi church puts faith in action to help homeless

Kalihi church puts faith in action to help homeless

KALIHI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kaleo and Russell Pakele and their two-year-old daughter live in one of the tents alongside the sanctuary of Hawaii Cedar Church in Kalihi.

"God brought us to this place," Kaleo said.

Since December, the Pakeles have been staying on the church's property, along with about 40 other homeless people.

"I believe everybody needs a second chance. That's why I call this program that we're running, 'A Second Time Around,'" pastor Henry Baxter said.

The church feeds them, and lets them use the showers and bathrooms. There are rules to follow. You either have an outside job or do church chores.

"The rules are very important in our lives. Discipline and rules," said Antonio Hernandez, who lives with his wife and young child in the tent next door to the Pakele's.

"Their labor is working in the parking area, the grounds, in the kitchen, the dining room, in the church itself," Baxter said.

The church offers some job training. Adults pay about $100 a month per person to cover utilities. Pakele said that teaches them responsibility.

"It is a stepping stone for me from here to transition out," Kaleo Pakele said.

In March, the church starts a new program. Some of the homeless will plant and harvest vegetables at the church's farm in Waianae.

"We'll actually be paying them $8 an hour, more than the minimum wage. They'll only be working four hours a day, but that will be something to get them started," Baxter said.

Most of the homeless living at the church were on drugs. Baxter said there is counseling and consequences.

"We have drug testing," he said. "We have zero tolerance on drugs and alcohol."

Violators are evicted.

Baxter estimates 120 families have been helped in three years, and half are now in housing.

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