Tammy Freitas and her family have struggled to get back on their feet after a fire burned down their home in September 2017.
Freitas had just re-entered the workforce when she got the call about the tragedy.
“We lost a lot of things, things that we couldn’t get back. Mostly personal items, memories, sentimentals,” Freitas said. “We were lucky enough to retrieve some, not all. Just a very few.”
Among those few items she was able to save were the ashes of her twin 16-year-old daughters’ father, who died about four years ago.
Freitas also has a 2-year-old daughter, Nohealani, with her current partner, William Salbosa. Although they both work, the couple are struggling to make ends meet, living paycheck to paycheck.
“We’re juggling bills and food, and making sure everybody has what they need,” said Freitas, who works for a nonprofit organization. “We’re trying to do the best we can, especially with the holidays coming around.”
She said Salbosa enjoys cooking for the kids on his days off. Their income no longer qualifies them for food stamps, but that doesn’t mean they still don’t need extra help.
“Some people look on people who (are) on food stamps like, ‘Oh, they’re only in it for the system,’ but that’s not the case …,” Freitas said. “The food stamps do help a lot, but once you lose it, it’s hard because you’re juggling to make sure you got your rent paid, your utilities all paid, so it’s not easy.
“You just try to be mindful and know what you can be late on and what you cannot.”
Her twins, Nakita and Nicole Freitas, have learned to live with what they have, but there are moments when they think back to their lives before the fire.
“There’s times where they dwell back on all the stuff they miss and they lost,” Freitas said, “and I reassure them we will get there, it’s just gonna take time.”
Tammy, 40; William, 41; daughters Nakita and Nicole, 16, Nohealani, 2.
>> For Tammy: Shirts (XXL), pants (20), shoes (size 8.5-9), TheBus pass, movie tickets for the family
>> For William: Shirts (XL), dark blue jeans (36×30), shoes (size 11 or 12)
>> For Nakita: Shirts (XL), pants (XL), shoes (size 10), items related to the K-pop band BTS
>> For Nicole: Shirts (XL), pants (XL), shoes (size 9-9.5), items related to the K-pop band BTS
>> For Nohealani: Shirts (4T-5T), pants (4T-5T), shoes (toddler size 6-8), diapers, Pull-Ups training pants
Grateful and humble
Last Christmas, community members donated items to the family to help them rebuild after the fire.
“We were grateful and thankful that there was people out there with big hearts,” Freitas said. “You know, even with their own situation they were able to give.”
This year, she wants to give her children a good Christmas.
“With all we’ve been through, they learned to be very humble,” Freitas said. “They don’t ask for much. So we try to make Christmas the best for them.”
HOW TO HELP
Approximately 775 families are participating in Adopt A Family this year, and you can help by making a donation to the Good Neighbor Fund. To donate to the Freitas family in particular, use the Family Code: CFSHFO-48.
>> At the bank: Donations accepted at First Hawaiian Bank locations through Dec. 31.
>> Online: HelpingHands Hawaii.org and click on “donate now” to make a gift via PayPal. Specify “Good Neighbor Fund.”
>> By mail: Send check payable to “Good Neighbor Fund” to Helping Hands Hawaii, 2100 N. Nimitz Highway, Honolulu, HI 96819. Attention: Good Neighbor Fund.
>> Donations of goods: Drop off at the address above.
>> Call: 440-3800