Children's Center helps homeless neighbors

Children's Center helps homeless neighbors

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dominique Quarles got an eye exam from Project Vision as several non-profits reached out to the people of a growing homeless camp in Kakaako.

"We ended up coming out here and finding this spot because it was close to our jobs. But now we're not working. Trying to find work is hard," Deja Quarles said.

There were doctor checkups and other health checks. Incidents of pink eye in children and cataracts in adults are common.

"We're taking pictures of the retina, and we look for things like diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma," said Elizabeth Valentin, executive director of Project Vision Hawaii.

The tent city surrounds The Children's Discovery Center. The organization sponsored the outreach, even though the homeless presence has cut into attendance.

"I think that's part of what we want to do is to bring awareness to the plight. This is not a Children's Discovery Center issue. This is a community issue," Loretta Yajima said.

Ketsen Alafanso and her children are from Chuuk. They were given new slippers and toiletries.

"We need food, clothes. We need a place to live," Alafanso said.

Some estimate one-third of the homeless in the Kakaako encampment are from Micronesia. Counselors presented options on health coverage from the Hawaii Health Connector.

"They are offered seven plans that are the best plans that we offer. Through that it's not zero co-pay but it is a greatly reduced co-pay," the Connector's James Fitzpatrick said.

Estimates say about 500 people live in the homeless camp. The surroundings can be intimidating for Children's Center visitors.

"Honestly, nobody should be afraid. They all have kids back here too," Deja Quarles said.

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