Living on the beach in Waianae was a struggle, but one Paul and Bonnie Kaopua were willing to put up with — until they saw their nephews and nieces start to follow in their footsteps. That’s when the couple knew they needed to make a change.
After a period of staying with various family and friends and in shelters, they landed on their feet at an affordable housing complex in Waianae.
Later, Paul Kaopua, 60, and wife Bonnie, 59, took their nephew’s then-1-year-old son Noa under their wing when his parents separated. Never having children of their own, the Kaopuas began raising little Noa as their own. They think of him as their grandson.
Now that he’s 3, they still feel blessed to do it.
“He’s brought joy to my husband and I — a blessing,” said Bonnie Kaopua. “He helped to build our relationship up better. But just taking care of him, it’s been an eye-opener for us.”
Even though they want to give him the world, they struggle to make it from paycheck to paycheck.
“Life is rough. Especially when you live on one income or on a fixed income,” she said. “You try to take care of your household, you know, buy your food. By the ending of the month, the last week, you find yourself going really low on a lot of things … . We try to make it last, and I think the only way we’ve been doing it is by the grace of God.”
More than 750 families will be served this year by the Good Neighbor Fund. To donate to the Kaopua family in particular, use the Family Code: KK-15
>> At the bank: Donations are accepted at First Hawaiian Bank locations through Dec. 31.
>> Online: Go to helpinghandshawaii.organd click on the “donate now” button to make a gift via PayPal. Specify “Good Neighbor Fund.”
>> By mail: Mail 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
Grandnephew Noa, 3.
>> For Bonnie: Blouses (2XL), capri pants (2XL), Skechers walking shoes (9W), California-king bed sheets, twin bed sheets, shower curtains, throw rugs, gift cards.
>> For Paul: Shirts (XL), blue jeans (size 32 long), blender, gift cards.
>> For Noa: Sports outfits (children’s size 5 and up), dinosaur toys, Mickey Mouse toys, puzzles, Hot Wheels, Paw Patrol toys, gift cards.
Despite their personal hardships, they continue to care for one another and their community. Bonnie Kaopua volunteers at her church and food bank.
She said raising Noa has changed her life.
“I think if I ever had kids, I think my life would be totally different,” she said.
Noa’s father has been helping out when he can and his mother just started to come back into his life.
“He’s starting to feel wanted again,” Bonnie Kaopua said. “I just want to see the smile on his face … It’s OK if we don’t have; everything should go to (Noa).”