Non-profits hope Hawaii residents will give this holiday season - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Non-profits hope Hawaii residents will give this holiday season

Clyde Hayakawa Clyde Hayakawa
Adrianna O'Donnell Adrianna O'Donnell
Sheila Beckham Sheila Beckham

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - During tough economic times, non-profit groups that rely on donations brace themselves for the possibility of shrinking budgets. They're hoping Hawaii residents will have the spirit of giving this holiday season.

"Hi Clyde, how are you today?"

Clyde Hayakawa is concerned about some cuts on his legs.

"What's this color, then come this color, then the thing break open?" he asked.

"As our skin heals, the pigment changes," a Waikiki Health Center staff member replied.

The 52-year-old homeless man is glad he can turn to the Waikiki Health Center for help.

"It's like one safe place, you know, where people could get off the street, come here, check themselves out," Hayakawa said.

Relying heavily on private donations, the non-profit organization provides medical services for a growing number of homeless people on Oahu.

"About 90% of the folks come to us without insurance," Sheila Beckham, executive director, said. "And we work extremely hard throughout the year to try to get folks hooked up with Medicaid and Quest."

The center hopes it won't end up on financial life support. Its annual operating budget is $4.5 million.

"22% of our operating expenses in 2007 were covered by contributions from private donations," Adrianna O'Donnell, development director, said.

She hopes the giving will continue despite this tough economic climate.

"We talk about how responsible we are with those contributions," O'Donnell said. "11.4% of our expenses were for administrative costs, and that's unheard of really."

The Waikiki Health Center has been around for more than 40 years. It served about 6,000 homeless adults and children last year, a 35% jump over 2005.

"It's heart-breaking and it just, it chokes me up that people have to live the way some of these folks do," Beckham said.

"Here in Hawaii, people do understand that it's hard times for everyone," O'Donnell said. "And if they do have some disposable income, then they're more than willing to share."

Other non-profits are just as worried.

The Hawaii chapter of the American Red Cross, which is called upon to provide disaster relief about once every three days, is counting on the holiday spirit of giving.

"It's make or break for us at the Red Cross," Coralie Chun Matayoshi, chief executive officer, said. "If we don't make the money there, then I don't know what we're going to do."

Red Cross Hawaii's annual operating budget is $4.2 million. Matayoshi says the organization counts on donations to cover $3 million of that.

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