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Providing Essential Services: The Ho`ala Program with WorkHawaii

May 26, 2020

"As a Job Resource Specialist III in the Ho'ala Program with WorkHawaii, I have been responsible for teaching a week long class in a State First-to-Work office where I prepare and nurture our islanders who have applied for government financial assistance. Ho'ala provides the life and job skills necessary to become self-sufficient and to be successful in their career and employment goals. Many are just "down on their luck," have lost jobs, or are going through life's difficult times. Others have experienced severe personal struggles and may have barriers making it more challenging to enter the Hawaii workforce. We must remember that Hawaii is a rainbow of 'cultures and creatures.' Our workforce celebrates the diversity of our island home . . . a home for all of us because we are "all" in this together!

Under normal circumstances, the public servants who work for the City's Department of Community Services (DCS) graciously sacrifice personal and professional time to fulfill the department mission statement which reads, "We are a community partner creating opportunities to improve the quality of life for the people of Oahu." Now, under extraordinary circumstances, it has been necessary to reinvent ourselves and utilize innovative measures to reach out to our community in this time of great need. As an essential worker in the Ho'ala Program with WorkHawaii, I have been assigned to telework from home, coordinate with our State FTW Case Workers and reach out to client referrals via phone, text messaging and e-mail. Because many clients do not have access to a computer, internet or printer, I have also been providing door-to-door service (while practicing social distancing) by dropping off/picking up class handouts on the Wai'anae Coast (where I live) in order to obtain the required information to develop personal resumes that will help them to market themselves, conduct a job search and apply for available positions.

I have regularly distributed food, diapers and other items to active and former clients who are in need. I have donated to the Hawaii Food Bank and Aloha United Way. I am also a member of the Women of Wai'anae (WOW), a non-profit organization founded by long-time Wai'anae resident Karen Young that raises money through yard sales and other events to fund college/technical school tuition for non-traditional students on the Wai'anae Coast."

Tena Funakoshi, Unit 13, Oahu



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