ERIC & ANGELA
Eric and Angela Hurd started fostering youth 25 years ago in Hawaii with a desire to give back to their community. They have since fostered more than 200 youth in and out of the system, ranging in age from infancy to 18 years old, and became guardians for four youth. Now some of the first youth they fostered at age 3 are nearly 30. Some of them still call or stop by to check in and talk story.
“I was formerly fostering under the Department of Human Services, and I was referred by one of my friends to Hale Kipa,” she said. “They provide a lot of support, including having staff and therapists on call, as well as staff who come to work with the youth in the home.”
Angela also works with the Hawaii community service organization PATCH (People Attentive to Children), which assists families with their child care needs. She provides respite care for military families, assisting special needs children in their homes. Her faith is an important part of what drives her to participate in the Transitional Family Homes Program, she said.
“Every child who comes to you has many needs, and it is your job to figure out what does this kid need right now,” Angela said. “You have to have a lot of compassion and a lot of patience, and be willing to advocate for them. And a lot of love.”
She has a detailed calendar on her phone with reminders to help her juggle work and foster duties. This includes handling reports and paperwork for each youth, accounting for any medication they may need, coordinating staff and family visits, and scheduling dental, therapy, and doctor appointments.
“Everyone knows what they are supposed to do – they help remind me sometimes,” she said.
In addition, Angela makes time to plan vacations, such as Disney cruises, to help create lifetime memories for the youth.
“These children are part of the family,” she said. “Our goal is to create a safe, loving, and nurturing environment for them.”
Butch & Remy
Butch and Remy Alegre have participated in Hale Kipa’s Transitional Family Homes Program for more than a decade, caring for over 60 total at-risk youth from their home on Oahu.
Remy, who has two grown children and five grandchildren and works in accounting in the hospitality industry, said she started fostering after seeing so many homeless youth.
“Hawaii has lots of kids on the street, and it breaks my heart to see them,” she said. “When youth in Hale Kipa’s Transitional Family Homes Program come to your house, you can show them you care about them and you want to help them and help the community.”
Remy, who has fostered youth for a few days up to nearly a year, says some of them still call her and talk about life as an adult – sharing important milestones such as living on their own, starting a job, getting married and having children.
“When I help them have a better future in life, that’s my reward,” she said.
She focuses on helping youth learn basic chores, such as how to clean their room and prepare dinner staples like rice.
“I tell them that if they do it here, they can do it when they get home, and their parents will be so proud,” she said. “The most important thing you can do is show them that you trust them.”
Remy works with up to two youth at a time, and her dedication to the program since 2006 recently earned her an official recognition from the Office of the Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu.
She said she appreciates the 24/7 support from the dedicated and trained Hale Kipa staff, as well as the program’s training. Each parent receives 33 hours of initial training, covering important topics such as CPR and first aid, trauma-informed care, technology in the home and Hale Kipa policies.
“I tell other prospective parents that it feels good to encourage, advise and help these youth,” she said. “You can give them a new life and help them. These kids can be a handful, but they make us stronger.”