A Waikīkī youth outreach center recently got a much-needed makeover. Thanks to funding raised by a group of local builders and contractors, the nearly $50,000 project is complete.
What seems like just a couch is something much more to Alika Campbell. He’s the program coordinator with the nonprofit Hale Kipa, which runs an outreach drop in center in Waikīkī for homeless youth. He says having a comfortable place to rest is the closest thing many of these kids have to a home.
“When you’re living on the street, the ability to come in and take a nap on a couch, it just doesn’t exist,” said Campbell, who just yesterday had a hard time waking somebody up from the new sofa. “Having a homey, youth-friendly environment where you can crash on the couch is huge.”
Campbell says the new furniture in the living room is just one of the recent renovations at YO! -- the youth outreach house. New kitchen appliances, washers and dryers, and plumbing repairs are all part of a project funded by HomeAid Hawai‘i. That’s a group of local builders and developers who are focused on addressing homelessness.
“I hope that this turns out to be a model for others in the private industry that see how you can use whatever talents your industry has to pitch in and do your part to help our community,” said HomeAid Hawai‘i board chair David Striph, the Executive Vice President for Howard Hughes. “It can’t all be done by government or private sector loan, it has to be a group effort. That’s what we’re trying to show here.”
Back in the courtyard of the youth outreach center, Campbell shows off new brightly colored lockers, more than triple the amount they used to have.
“Their stuff gets lost and stolen all the time, confiscated and thrown away,” he said. “So we really encourage people to lock up important documents and belongings, like birth certificates or social security cards. Keep it locked in your locker so that it’s safe and you know where it is.”
Campbell says every year, more than 500 homeless and runaway youth stop by this place, some to grab a bite to eat or seek medical care at the attached Waikīkī Health clinic. More than 25 years after it first opened, the house was definitely in need of repairs.
“So imagine 30, 40 adolescent teenagers showing up at your house every day to hang out, and you kind of get a basic idea of the wear and tear on our facility,” said Campbell. “The house was built in 1940 and is kind of literally held together with termites, spit and duct tape in some places. So having $50,000 worth of new appliances and work done to the facility really helps us sustain.”
The YO! House renovation is the second project HomeAid Hawai‘i has completed in the last year.