Meet the 'Bodacious Women' who have come together to help lava evacuees

Meet the 'Bodacious Women' who have come together to help lava evacuees
The Bodacious Women of Pahoa have come together to help feed lava evacuees. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

PAHOA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - One of the largest food pantries in Puna started out as a group of ladies doing good deeds.

And over the last seven weeks, those ladies — who call themselves the Bodacious Women of Pahoa — have been proven vital in helping hundreds of people displaced by ongoing eruptions of Kilauea.

"When that ground first shook, we were already calling each other," said logistics coordinator Tracy Gonsalves. "We came down here, met each other and said OK, we need to go into action."

When people in Puna need a hand up, they often turn to the nonprofit.

"You're not always going to have a family member or a friend to stay with," said Gonsalves.

Using money out of their own pockets, The Bodacious Women of Pahoa launched their first food bank in 2013.

Since then, they've helped establish monthly pantries in neighborhoods throughout Puna. Over the years, the nonprofit has also been instrumental in providing relief following disasters, like Hurricane Iselle.

"It's important, you know? People who can't go to the market and get what they want, this is the place to be," said resident Marie Nihi, who was getting help at the food pantry and then decided to volunteer.

Since the eruption began, the number of people living with Nihi has more than doubled — from seven to 15.

"I came several times," said Nihi. "So I figured since I'm coming to get, I might as well give my time. So I take care of this area right here."

Volunteers are at the Nanawale Community Association's Log House seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., helping people with the basics.

"Right now the biggest need is tents, tarps, bungee cords and water," said Gonsalves.

Every day, dozens of people are served.

Though there's not end in sight to the eruptions, Gonsalves along with the rest of the Bodacious Women say they're committed to the cause.

"We will continue until all needs have been met," said Gonsalves. "Just like Hurricane Iselle."

To donate, click here and make a note that you'd like your money to go to "Bodacious."

This story will be updated.

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