Editorial | Island Voices How about foster care for homeless? By Linda Maruyama Kunimitsu Feb. 9, 2014 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. On the last Sunday of 2013, a church member attended our morning service with her 20-year-old, 6-foot, 250-pound grandson, who towered above her 5’2" frame. She introduced him and stated that when he woke up that morning, he told her he wanted to attend church and to be baptized "today." I am the moderator of Ho‘olokahi Congregational Church in Captain Cook, Kona, and was delighted. Our small congregation consists mainly of elderly citizens, and baptismals are few. After our usual congregational lunch, seven of us headed for the beach, where the young man was baptized. It was a beautiful afternoon and a moving ceremony. That day, my husband and I learned that the young man had been homeless for three years, sleeping in keawe bushes in downtown Kailua-Kona. He had a desire to turn his life around and had sought the help of his grandmother, who lived in a one-room coffee shack with her ailing husband. Their landlord did not approve of another tenant and they were in a quandary. After the baptism, my husband and I invited the boy and grandmother to our coffee and mac nut farm. We would provide him with a tent, solar shower, microwave oven, commode and a little kitchen on our porch. We asked whether he would be willing to live in a tent on our farm. Most important, he would be safe here. Living on the streets, he had been robbed, beaten and offered drugs, and had a myriad of other experiences that only a homeless person can experience. Mainly because of immaturity, he had gotten into troubles with the law. Court cases were upcoming; court fees had to be paid; he had no toothbrush, no underwear; not even rubber zoris; his identification card had been stolen. He was, simply put, down and out. He had a huge ohana but no one was willing or able to house and help him change his life on a full-time basis. He moved into a tent on our farm on New Year’s Day. My husband and I are in our 70s and, by the grace of God, were financially able to support this young man, to help him onto his feet. We are not new to such a situation. We have housed others who were down and out; we have also been foster parents. Hence, we were wise enough to draw up rules to which he willingly agreed: no lying, no friends visiting, no drugs, etc. It has been just over one month. We have fed him, clothed him, accompanied him to court cases, sat with him so the judges knew we were his supporters, paid his court fees, and provided transportation for the 200 hours of community service he has to accomplish. Recently, his father called and asked if his son would like to work as a temporary helper for a woman who services events at hotels. His son was overjoyed. We provided transportation. There is a chance for him to get hired on a regular basis. Hopelessness has now turned to hope. My question to social agencies is this: We have foster care programs for children. Can there possibly be a similar program for the homeless? There must be a better way than what is now being done, or am I in the dark? For those who are complaining and saying government agencies are not doing enough, are you willing to step in and house a homeless person if he or she is screened by a social agency, drug tested, given, court supervision and counseling is provided? And, of course, a reasonable stipend? Granted, you won’t get rich — but the richness lies in the accomplishment of helping another human being become a responsible person in our society, does it not? Previous Story Off the News Next Story Waterfront park needs 'active uses'