IHS program aims to help those seeking work, while also providing relief for homeless

Over the last fiscal year, the program has been active, finding work for nearly 300-clients.
Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 5:09 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -For Sione Tatafu, a hard day’s work isn’t a stressor, but rather a valued opportunity.

“They give me that feeling of like, ‘oh yeah, I want to work,” Tatafu said. “That’s the kind of feeling that I have. They changed me from being the person that I was.”

That person, from years back, was previously incarcerated and on the verge of homelessness until he found the Institute for Human Services, which offered housing and a job through its employment program.

“We really focus on getting people to be self-sufficient and helping them really achieve a work identity,” said IHS employment program manager November Morris. “Most of us can say, this is what I do for a living.”

Over the last fiscal year, the program has been active, finding work for nearly 300 clients and the preparation is comprehensive.

“They may need a bus pass, they may need some work documents, they may need interview clothes, a haircut,” Morris said. “All these things, we provide for them to kind of get all that stressful stuff out of the way, so they can just focus on finding a job that they like.”

IHS outreach employment specialist Jeri Johnston knows that formula all too well as she was previously homeless, but now helps that community get back on its feet.

“It’s really being personable and telling them, ‘Hey I’ve been here and I know the secret to get out,” Johnston said. “So this is the secret. The secret is get a job as quick as possible.”

Johnston’s goal with every client is to find them a position within two weeks and jobs could be in any number of industries.

“I think the biggest benefit is giving them hope,” Johnston said. “Giving them that hand up where we let them know that gosh, you can do this. You can go ahead and get your job and become stable, so you can get your own place.”

Similar to Tatafu, who now works and lives at IHS’ Kahauiki Village with his family but has plans to soon start his own landscaping business.

He wants those struggling to know — there’s always a way to grow.

“I want them to see where I was and where I’m at now,” Tatafu said.

Those interested in being a part of the program or volunteering, can contact IHS directly at 808-447-2800 or online by clicking here.