An Elegant Holiday Evening for Oahu's Homeless

Shannon Auld
Shannon Auld
Utu Langi
Utu Langi

WAIKIKI (KHNL) -- Hundreds of people who call the Next Step emergency shelter home enjoyed an elegant evening at a Waikiki hotel.

A party was held for them on Monday at the Yacht Harbor Tower, formerly part of the Ilikai hotel.

250 residents from the Kakaako shelter were at the Pacific Ballroom enjoying a night many say is a blessing.

There was music, dancing and a sit-down dinner at Hawaii's historic ballroom. It was an experience families there said they never dreamed of having.

"Very exciting, because it's my first time being over here," said Shannon Auld, a little girl living at the shelter.

"Our typical day out eating dinner is at McDonald's. It's about as close as we can get to a family eat-out with people, so this is a privilege for my kids," said Edgar Auld, Shannon's father.

It's a privilege courtesy of local business leaders who helped put together this banquet for Next Step members, both residents and volunteers.

"The women were given some of the dresses and some of the staff at Next Step went out, bought dresses and dressed up all day. They were there dressing them up, putting on make-up and stuff. They were looking forward to this evening," said Utu Langi, Next Step Operations Manager.

Some of the kids from the shelter even got to perform.

The hope is to bring a little holiday cheer, and make sure those who hold Hawaii's future know they are taken care of.

eRealty, the new owner of the Yacht Harbor Tower, hosted the banquet. Organizers say they hope the event was more than just a one night affair.

They also wanted to give the homeless a chance to network with business leaders at the holiday banquet in hopes of opening doors to possible job opportunities so residents at the shelter can spend the new year in a new home for their families.