Seeing its patrons needed more than books, a library struck up a unique partnership

Published: Oct. 25, 2019 at 5:22 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's something most people take for granted.

But for Bryan Wells, who’s used to taking cold showers at Kaneohe District Park, hot water and 15 minutes of privacy are luxuries.

“Thank you so much,” he said, after being handed a bag of toiletries and a towel.

On Friday, officials at Kaneohe Regional Library invited Revive and Refresh mobile shower van to use its parking lot in an effort to help a growing number of its homeless library patrons.

“We do see people that are coming in that need some shelter, that need a place to rest,” said Hawaii State Public Libraries Director Stacie Kaneshige.

“Giving them the chance to take a shower, have a meal and talk story with somebody and be valued is always valuable to us.”

The library joined forces with the new outreach center and urgent care clinic next door.

The Kaneohe Joint Outreach Center has been open just two months and already it’s provided medical care and social services to more than 80 people.

Bryan Wells was able to get a warm shower in a mobile unit parked outside Kaneohe library on...
Bryan Wells was able to get a warm shower in a mobile unit parked outside Kaneohe library on Friday.(Hawaii News Now)

“After they get a shower. They get a hot meal and when they’re eating we try to connect them with the social services they need,” said state Rep. Lisa Kitagawa.

According to January’s point-in-time count, there are about 225 unsheltered homeless people living in Windward Oahu. That number is more than double what it was in 2013.

Kitagawa says the lack of services in Windward Oahu has made it difficult for homeless people to get back on their feet.

“It was really kind of a barrier for people because they had to travel on a bus usually across the Koolau to get those types of services,” said Kitagawa.

“So bringing the shower van here, we’re kind of breaking down those barriers.”

Wells said the event was downright “welcoming.”

“The people are very nice," he said.

In addition to a shower and lunch, the 48-year-old met with his case manager and is now one step closer to get an ID ― a requirement before he can apply for housing.

“We’re making progress,” she told Wells.

Revive and Refresh is scheduled to be at Kaneohe Regional Library every second and fourth Friday of the month.

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