Of the many excellent volunteer opportunities available to Hawaii residents, two in particular stand heads above the rest. Honolulu Habitat for Humanity and the American Red Cross, Hawaii State Chapter are both excellent non-profit organizations that serve the community and contribute selflessly, often without recognition.
Honolulu Habitat for Humanity (www.honoluluhabitat.org) is located at 1136 Union Plaza, Suite 510, Honolulu, HI 96813, downtown. Honolulu Habitat builds all over Oahu, with the exception of the Leeward Coast (from Kunia to Makaha). Habitat builds on Hawaiian Homelands as well as lands owned by families. The houses built must be simple, decent, and affordable. Usually volunteers gather at a building site, and are briefed by professional contractors who are also volunteering their time. Depending on the state of the build, you can expect a wide variety of tasks from framing, painting, flooring and other jobs which do not necessitate previous construction experience. A licensed professional usually completes the plumbing and electrical wiring.
Another opportunity is the American Red Cross, Hawaii State Chapter (www.hawaiiredcross.org), which is located at 4155 Diamond Head Road, Honolulu, HI 96816, close to the entrance to Diamond Head Crater. The American Red Cross is a worldwide volunteer-led humanitarian organization whose mission is to “prevent and alleviate human suffering, wherever it may be found, to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being in times of war and peace.” Although established by Congressional Charter in 1905, the American Red Cross is NOT a government agency. The American Red Cross helps those “who through no fault of their own find themselves in desperate circumstances.”
Like all Red Cross Chapters in the US and throughout the world the Hawaii State Chapter contributes mainly through Disaster Relief, Safety Training, Military Liaisons, offering First Aid Stations at events, and donating to International Relief efforts (through Fund Raising). The major difference between the Hawaii State Chapter and other local chapters is that in addition to Disaster Response (hurricanes, tsunamis, tornados, earthquakes, etc.), the Hawaii State Chapter responds to over 70 house fires per year, supplying desperately needed food, shelter, and support to the impacted individuals. This possible inpart because of the concentrated nature of the island’s population, and the unswerving dedication of the volunteers.
That being said, with hurricane season upon us, there are approximately 167 designated hurricane shelters (covering about 35% of the island’s inhabitants) on the Oahu alone, and less than 500 volunteers statewide. The Red Cross Hawaii State Chapter needs volunteers with virtually any skill set, so even if you have no experience, their excellent training classes will show you how to be a competent care provider.
Remember, caring for your community is your kuleana (responsibility). Please volunteer at one of these amazing organizations. I can guarantee that you will find a deep satisfaction in volunteering, and a greater connection to your neighborhood in the process.