It’s been a year of ups and downs for Lindsey Waiamau and James Awana and their five children, ages 1 to 9.
After bouncing among relatives’ homes for years, the family of seven found themselves settling into transitional housing at the start of 2018.
“We felt like that was a big break for us ’cause we finally had something stable,” Waiamau said.
But just a few months later, they were notified the home was closing down. If they didn’t find somewhere else to live, they would be homeless once again.
Fortunately, the family’s case worker was able to get them into another transitional home in October, which is where they live now.
“We’re really thankful that that happened because at one point, we really didn’t know what we were gonna do,” Waiamau said. “Just off of Dad’s income, there’s no way we could’ve afforded anything. Even at the low-income places, we couldn’t afford it. So we knew that if we didn’t get help to find anything, we would probably end up back on the beach.”
Awana has been working as a security guard at a high school on the west side for almost three years. During that time, Waiamau focused on taking care of their children to save on child-care costs.
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 Waiamau-Awana family in particular, use the Family Code: OOOK-26
>> At the bank: Donations accepted at First Hawaiian Bank locations through Dec. 31.
>> Online: HelpingHandsHawaii.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
At the end of August, she got a part-time job at a market and worked out a child-care arrangement with her mother. But with both parents working, it’s been hard to set aside time to do things as a family.
In fact, Waiamau said, Christmas will be the first time in awhile they’ll get to spend quality time together. She hopes it will be better than last Christmas, when she and Awana weren’t able to afford presents for the kids.
“We couldn’t buy them anything at all. So anything they did got for Christmas wasn’t from us, it was from friends and family,” she said.
Living paycheck to paycheck covers only the necessities. So although their boys want to play sports, Waiamau said they can’t afford it because all the money goes to bills and essentials.
Mom Lindsey, 26; father James, 29; sons Sage, 9, Shade, 7, Sovereign, 3, and Sudden-Rhyme, 2; daughter, Sacred, 1.
>> For Sage: Shirts (youth size large), pants (youth size 14-16), shoes (size 4). Likes: Dallas Cowboys, color red.
>> For Shade: Shirts (youth size medium), pants (youth size 8-10), shoes (size 2). Likes: Oakland Raiders, color white.
>> For Sovereign: Shirts (4T-5T), pants (3T-4T), shoes (toddler size 10-11). Likes: puzzles, color red.
>> For Sudden-Rhyme: Shirts (4T-5T), pants (3T-4T), shoes (toddler size 10-11). Likes: learning activities/toys.
>> For Sacred: Shirts (2T), pants (2T), shoes (toddler size 5-6). Likes: pineapple-themed items, color pink.
One thing the family has always been able to count on is music. Awana comes from a musical family and has been pursuing a reggae career for about five years now.
Now, their sons are picking up their father’s musical talents.
The oldest, Sage, 9, is starting to write his own songs and goes to rehearsals with his father. The younger boys are also starting to play instruments.
“That’s the one thing I love the most — that they get to learn that off of him,” Waiamau said.
Music has been a constant source of enjoyment for their family and one thing that could always bring them together.
“The most important thing for us has been family, having each other no matter how hard things would get for us,” she said. “We just remembered that as long as we had each other, that’s all that matters.”