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Domestic violence survivor struggles with child care

                                Judy Hernandez left an abusive relationship to make a better life for herself and her two children


    Judy Hernandez left an abusive relationship to make a better life for herself and her two children

Since May, 28-year-old Judy Hernandez and her two young children have been living in a domestic violence shelter on Oahu after leaving an abusive relationship.

“It was toxic and it was negative and it was crazy,” she said of her past situation.

Determined to create a better life for her family, Hernandez plans to enroll in a program to become a licensed massage therapist to help people dealing with physical ailments.

The annual Good Neighbor Fund campaign, sponsored by the Honolulu Star- Advertiser in partnership with Helping Hands Hawaii and First Hawaiian Bank, helps struggling families during the holiday season.

Hernandez said she noticed how her turbulent relationship with her ex-boyfriend affected her children, who were present in the home at the time of the abuse.

Her 5-year-old son suffered nightmares and her 3-year-old daughter displayed outbursts of anger.

According to the Office on Women’s Health of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, children who witness domestic violence or are victims of domestic violence themselves are at risk for long-term physical, psychological and emotional problems. The agency also indicated these children may also be at risk of entering an abusive relationship in the future.

Angelina Mercado, executive director of the Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said if a child witnesses or experiences violence at home, it can affect their performance in school and have a domino effect later in life. It’s important to work with survivors and their children to address the violence and trauma associated with it, she said.

Hernandez has been taking her children to therapy and said they are doing much better. The single mother is also seeing a psychiatrist and taking medication to treat her own depression and anxiety stemming from the abuse. On top of everything else, she is coping with the recent deaths of her grandmother and uncle who died within a few days of each other from COVID-19.

She finds comfort and enjoyment in staying active with her children, taking them to the park to exercise and ride their bikes. “We’re slowly healing,” Hernandez said.

In addition to completing a massage therapy program, she has set a goal of saving enough money to eventually relocate to her native California. Although Hernandez receives state assistance for food and basic necessities, she continues to struggle financially. She is eager to find a job once her daughter starts in a Head Start program and her son returns to in-person classes.

In the meantime, as she takes steps toward building a better life for her family, affordable child care is another obstacle Hernandez is facing. She is hoping for help with child care expenses from the Good Neighbor Fund and would like to be able to buy Christmas gifts for her kids: a doll, teddy bear, Olaf from “Frozen” or “anything that lights up” for her daughter, and cars, police toys and Kinetic Sand for her son. (Helping Hands Hawaii is no longer accepting toys and other items for families, but monetary donations may be used to buy gifts.)

In the COVID-19 pandemic, Mercado said survivors of domestic abuse are dealing with even more challenging conditions while fighting every day for their families.

Child care centers have fewer spaces available because of social distancing, according to Mercado, who added that the pandemic has highlighted a significant problem concerning access to affordable child care in Hawaii.

If the state does not put an emphasis in economic recovery plans to address child care,“we will continue to have survivors who really have to make tough choices of being able to go to work and make enough money to go on with their lives,” she said.

How to help

>> To make a monetary donation, individuals may drop off cash or checks at any First Hawaiian Bank branch statewide. Checks may be made payable to the “Good Neighbor Fund.” The deadline to drop off monetary donations is Dec. 31. To donate specifically to the Hernandez family, include the code DVAC-033.

>> Donors also may mail checks to Helping Hands Hawaii, 2100 N. Nimitz Highway, Honolulu, HI 96819, or go online to Click on the “donate” box and then “Good Neighbor Fund” in the drop-down options.

For more information, call Helping Hands Hawaii at 440-3800.

The Good Neighbor Fund helps support Adopt A Fam-ily, which provides assistance to those who are facing some kind of struggle, whether it be with finances, health, employment or otherwise: Here is a list of donors and the amount they contributed:

In loving memory $2,020 of Charles and Hazue Sakamaki

Akiko Yazawa $1,000

Catherine Korda $1,000

Steven Yamane $1,000

Cleyo Hamamoto $500

Cynthia Chun $500

Glenn S. Yamada $500

Hattie and Bob $500

In honor of the fine $500 attorneys and staff at Chun Kerr LLP

In memory of Dusty $500

In memory of Kiyoshi $500

& Dorothy Yuhara

In memory of $500 Mr. & Mrs. S. Miyashiro

Mary Ann & Larry Collignon $500

Mildred Miyashiro $500

Wayne B. McDonald $500

Andrea Bell $300

Beloved memory $300 of my family

Celia Shen $300

Rene Nakama $300

RHLDP $300

Clint & Suzy Churchill $250

Cynthia Johnstone $250

Gloria Perry $250

In loving memory $250 of Remington Suzuki

In memory of Jane S. Morris $250

Tommy Steph Troy $250

Paul Miguel $225

Gloria P. Huber $200

In loving memory $200 of Mabel M. Oyama

In loving memory of: Kay $200 and Ralph Nishimoto

In memory of George Y.K. $200 and Betty M.L. Yee

Joyce Uehara $200

Rocco’s family $200

Rose Choy $200

Ruth N. Kaneshiro $200

Sylvia Y. Brown $200

Visa $200

In memory of Amy Etsuko $175


Craig T. Nakamura $150

In loving memory $150 of Ronald F. Hata

In memory of Kenji $150 and Edith Okimura

Margaret M. Isonaga $150

Raymond J. Schab $150

Molly Jo Campbell $125

John Tokunaga $103

Alma I. Kidoguchi $100

Ann H. Abe $100

AYE $100

Betty E. Hayashi $100

Carol J. Holverson $100

Dorrine and Michael $100


Evelyn N. Tsuda $100

Faith Kino $100

Fred, Russell, Susie & Esther $100

Gerry W. Ching $100

Gervin Miyamoto $100

Grace O. Wilson $100

Howard T. Sugai $100

In loving memory $100 of Darryl E. Cambia Sr.

In loving memory of $100 Wakatoshi and Aiko Nakamura

In memory of Darin Lance $100 Keean Oda

In memory of $100 Dr. George M. Takeishi

In memory of Gilbert Choi $100

In memory of Kimei $100 Kamitaki

In memory of Peter $100 and Anna Mahoe

In memory of Richard T. $100 Nakata

In memory of Sung Ho Lai $100

In memory of William $100 and Connie Recktenwald

In memory of Philip, $100 Annie, Buddy & Patches

Jeffrey Allen $100

Jerry H. Hirata $100

John and Kitty Simonds $100

Judi Plumer $100

Keiki Lucy Merry Pang $100

Laura Schlesinger $100

Maile Ventura $100

Michael P. Matwichyna $100

Molly Strode $100

Nathan M. Poentis $100

Pat Arakawa $100

Raymond & Judy Guerrero $100

Reid Iwamoto $100

Ronald M. Honda $100

Sandra Akasaka $100

Sue & Jim Kelly $100

Sue Ann Lau $100

Susan T. Takahashi $100

Susanne Takamiya $100

Terence Leong $100

Thomas Y. Nakano $100

TR Enterprise Inc / Air $100 Conditioning Hawaii

Ululani M. Hirohata $100

Vicki M.Q. Lee $100

Violet Subiaga $100

Laurie Y. Wong $75

Amy Monk $55

Beth Anderson $50

Douglas Morton $50

DRP $50

Francis J. Sansone $50

Galyn E. Goto $50

Gaye Araki $50

Gov Abercrombie / $50 N Caraway

Gwen C. Inzer $50

In loving memory $50 of Bud & Lani Leach

In memory of George $50 Maimori

In memory of Hoku, Koa $50 and Genoa

In memory of Richard Iha $50

In memory of Takeo Morita $50

In memory of Walter Rockey $50 Nakama

Janet Rensel $50

Janice Nuckols $50

Jennifer Brooks $50

Kerry Guerreiro $50

L. Jeanne Martin-Hopkins $50

Lillian Takemura $50

Lorenzo Cayetano $50

Mike Yokoyama $50

Norman R. Iwaishi $50

Pauline T. Chiogioji $50

Raymond Kurosu $50

Rosary Joy R. Saavedra $50

Sandra Linskey $50

Nancy $40

Gerald F. Ogawa $25

In memory & honor of loved $25 ones from Ruth D. Merz

Joy A. Prucnal $25

Patricia K. Watanabe $25

Paul V.I. Campbell $25

Elizabeth Tyrrell $20

Gerald Dunn $20

Ida Fely $20

Jo-Anne A. Oshiro $20

Nancy Murakami $20

Paying it Forward Challenge $10 from Finance Insurance, LTD.

Victoria M. Hilford $10

First Hawaiian Bank $8.83 Kahului

Henry Calamayan $7

Anonymous $3,585

Weekly total $27,163.83

Last week’s total $90,633.33

Grand total $117,797.16

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