A makeshift memorial made of silk flowers and empty liquor bottles sat in the middle of a picnic table Friday at a Waikiki pavilion.
It was put there by a gathering of homeless men in honor of their friend, Martin Shinew, who died last week while being held in a cell at the main Honolulu Police Department. Though Shinew was only in his early 30s, like many of the men seated at his usual picnic table, he had spent years on the streets of Waikiki and cycling in and out of Honolulu hospitals and jails.
“I was in jail for park closure with him. We were in the same cell,” said Stanley Stonemetz, who became homeless about 10 years ago after his wife’s death. “That makes two of our friends that have died in the last six months.”
|HAWAII FOR HAWAII
When: Oct. 22, 5:30 to 9 p.m.
Where: Hilton Hawaiian Village, Great Lawn
What’s included: Music by Henry Kapono and friends. A four-course dinner, with beer, wine and cocktail service. Parking is free and specialty cocktails will be available.
Purchase information: Tickets will be sold in table blocks with costs set at $5,000 for a 5-person table and $10,000 for a 10-person table. Sponsors can team up to split table costs. Purchases should be made by the second week of October.
For more information visit hawaiiforhawaii.com or to book a table: Call Diane Kadomoto at 808-947-7963 or email her at Diane.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional donations are accepted at:
c/o Hawaii for Hawaii
Kalia Tower, 25th floor
2005 Kalia Road, Honolulu HI 96815
Stonemetz said his other friend who died was Jamie McClurken, also in his early 30s, who moved from Alaska to Hawaii and wound up on the tourist district’s beaches and sidewalks. The last time the Star-Advertiser encountered McClurken, he was sleeping on a plastic raft and wouldn’t wake up even when another homeless man started kicking him.
Harsh realities like these are why the visitor industry is teaming up with the Institute for Human Services to hold a second Hawaii for Hawaii concert on Oct. 22, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The televised event aims to raise $1 million to bolster the Waikiki outreach program, which began November 2014 with seed money from the Hawai‘i Lodging and Tourism Association.
Local entertainer Henry Kapono is putting together a star-studded program with more than 20 local and national acts and a four-course dinner. Tickets will be sold in table blocks, with costs set at $5,000 for a 5-person table and $10,000 for a 10-person table. Sponsors will receive social media exposure and recognition at the televised event, which is being produced by Hawaii News Now and will air on their networks.
“We anticipate 1,000 people,” said Jerry Gibson, Hilton Hawaii area vice president. “We’re planning on filling 100 to 110 tables depending on demand. We’re really excited. We can do so, so much with this money.”
Gibson said the concert is part of Hilton’s Global Week of Service, corporate’s annual volunteer event. The hope is that the concert can raise as much for IHS as past events did for natural disasters, he said.
“Homelessness is our continuous disaster that has gone on for quite a long time. I really believe in all my heart that we can fix this if people get together and do the right thing,” Gibson said.
Kapono said those who cannot afford to attend the concert or have other plans may donate through a celebrity-staffed telethon that will accompany the concert.
“A little bit goes a long way. If everyone in the state donated $1, we’d reach $1 million,” Kapono said. “Our goal is ambitious, but I’d love to surpass it. Hey, might as well shoot for the moon.”
Gibson said every dollar counts. The visitor industry already has seen strong results from its earlier partnerships with IHS, which included a Hawaii for Hawaii concert in May 2015, he said.
By leveraging the $400,000 raised from that event, IHS served 607 homeless individuals living in Waikiki and moved 417 of them off the streets. The nonprofit subsidized return airfare for 186 of Waikiki’s homeless and 19 of Maui’s. It also provided 1,564 shuttle rides to help Waikiki’s homeless population access IHS facilities and resources.
Gibson said this latest concert allows IHS to continue its Waikiki outreach, with an added focus on reaching homeless individuals with mental illness or substance abuse issues.
Additional resources are needed in Waikiki to move the most difficult cases off the street, said Justin Phillips, IHS outreach field manager.
“When we first got here in 2014, people were like, ‘Please help me now,’” Phillips said. “Now we’re hearing, ‘I’m not interested. I’ve been homeless for 10 years and I know what I’m doing.’”
Phillips said it takes coordinated effort and resources to get chronically homeless individuals off the street and keep them in housing. On Friday, one of Phillips’ goals was to find Ralph “Buddy” McCarroll, who had checked out of IHS’ Sumner Shelter for the third time.
Phillips and his team found McCarroll drinking from a pint of bourbon sitting in a wheelchair in front of a boarded-up house that sported a “no trespassing” sign. The condo where he once lived cast a shadow on his makeshift bed.
“He’s probably eligible for some services that would get him off the streets, but its hard to get him to accept them,” Phillips said. “What do we do in cases like this? We keep going back.”
If the concert raises $1 million, IHS has committed to moving at least 280 homeless individuals off Waikiki streets annually, returning at least 150 of them to their original homes through the airline relocation program, while sending 130 of them into shelter or other housing. They’ll reduce squatting in public spaces by expanding the shuttle service to include routes through Waikiki, Kakaako and Ala Moana and surrounding areas.
Gibson said IHS has made a tremendous difference in Waikiki and needs generous support.
“You could tell a difference in Waikiki when they were underfunded earlier this year,” he said. “Hawaii offers so many wonderful things for tourism, the beauty of the people and the islands and all the activities. We also have to have a beauty within us and a responsibility for our own people.”
Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of HLTA, said the membership is prepared to roll up its sleeves again to help Hilton Hawaiian Village raise funds for Waikiki’s ongoing homelessness challenge.
“It’s part of our tradition of giving,” Hannemann said.
The city and nonprofits like IHS are doing a good job at confronting homelessness with the resources they have available, but ongoing private sector support also is needed, said Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO George Szigeti.
“Kudos to Jerry Gibson and Hilton for their leadership in making this concert possible and raising essential funds to combat a community issue everyone wants addressed,” he said. “This concert will provide a boost to support services that will get the homeless off the streets and help rebuild their lives in a humane and compassionate way.”
Kapono said Hawaii’s entertainment industry also is stepping up.
“If they were available, they said yes and are encouraging their fans to go. Everyone knows homelessness is such a big problem. It’s not good for them to be on the streets, its not good for us,” Kapono said. “It’s our paradise, we need to make everyone feel like they are at home in paradise.”
Kapono, who grew up in Kapahulu, said he remembers a time when homelessness wasn’t prevalent in Waikiki.
“Now, I see it every day when I’m driving and my heart goes out,” he said. “It affects me because I think about my kids, and I would never want them to ever be homeless. The next generation will be important to everyone. We need to set them up so that they can take over and keep moving forward.”