Hale Kipa foster parents Mary Ann and Robert Lopes know what it’s like to welcome new additions to their family. The couple, who have eight children, 27 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, have helped more than 10 foster youth in the past decade for stays ranging from 6 months to 3 years.
“We wanted to give back,” said Mary Ann, a stay-at-home mom, of getting involved as a foster parent. She has worked with foster youth ages 13 years and up, many of who remain in contact for years after leaving the program. “The kids who come our way are like family to us.”
Kalei Perry, who turned 18 years old in January, agrees. After Hale Kipa connected her with the Lopes family as a runaway youth at age 16, she immediately felt welcome in their Kapolei home.
“It is a local-style large family, and the first day, we just clicked,” said Perry, who calls Mary Ann her “best friend,” with whom she eagerly shares activities like grocery shopping and frequent family gatherings.
Perry, who earned her degree from Kapolei High School, recently completed training to become a certified nursing assistant. She will continue her education at Leeward Community College this fall, with the goal of using her skills in math and science, as well as her interest in health and working with children, to become a pediatrician.
“We tell the kids, ‘With education, you can be anything you want to be,’” said Mary Ann, who has helped all of her children and foster children earn their diplomas.
Although she is no longer in the foster program, Perry continues to live with Mary Ann and Robert, who are currently foster parents to a 14-year-old girl. Perry also continues to work with Hale Kipa on educational support.
“I was in and out of foster homes,” Perry said. “This was my fifth one. Hale Kipa stepped in and introduced me to Aunty Mary Ann and Uncle Robert, who made me feel like a part of the family.”
Hale Kipa has a variety of Oahu and Hilo resource caregivers devoted to caring for Hawaii’s youth. Our families are unique in their styles of delivering services.
Considering different cultures and geographical locations, Hale Kipa’s Program Coordinator and Foster Home Developer take extra care in matching a youth to a resource home.
Some of our dedicated resource caregivers have been licensed through Hale Kipa for many years. One family has been with us since 1997. Although referrals have been increasing in need and complexity, families endure challenges, encourage successes and continue to provide a therapeutic home. Families are supported by Hale Kipa Therapists, a Program Coordinator, Foster Home Developer and treatment team members in the community.
It takes a special family to invite youth into their home and provide nurturing care. Our resource caregivers provide structure to the youth and stabilize living conditions to better their opportunities in life. Caregivers build relationships, teaching the youth to value themselves and project successful futures. Many youth keep in contact with their resource families long after being discharged from the foster program, with the sense of family, referring to them as aunty and uncle.
As referrals increase, so does the need for resource families. If you live on Oahu and are interested in becoming a resource caregiver, call Tanya at (808) 589-1829, ext. 407. For Hilo inquiries, call Clarissa at (808) 969-1935.
We are proud to announce that we have been awarded a $10,000 grant from the Weinberg Friends Program as part of a service project led by the Rotary Club of Honolulu Sunrise.
The grant will be used to enhance computer literacy and job training through our Youth Outreach (YO!) program, which in collaboration with the Waikiki Health Center, provides assistance to runaway and homeless youth and young adults on Oahu with street outreach, case management, counseling and health services.
“This grant will enable us to better provide vital computer literacy and job training skills to our at-risk youth by ensuring that they have access to essential software and technology,” said Punky Pletan-Cross, chief executive officer of Hale Kipa. “We are grateful to be selected as the recipient of this generous Weinberg Friends Program grant by the Rotary Club of Honolulu Sunrise.”
The grant funds will also be used to purchase essential operational items for its Waikiki facility, including kitchen equipment for preparing 4,000 meals a year to nearly 500 at-risk individuals; as well as washers and dryers for drop-in laundry services. A video training and self-expression pilot program may also be launched using remaining funds.
As part of the grant process, the Rotary Club of Honolulu Sunrise participated in a service project from 8 a.m. to noon on April 27, 2013, to benefit the Winners’ Camp of the Hawai‘i Leadership Academy on Kamehame Ridge. It is the 14th consecutive year that the club has secured the Weinberg Friends Program grant, funded by The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc., to benefit an Oahu nonprofit organization.