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Benefitting Hawaii’s Homeless Community


By Greg Payton, CEO of Mental Health Kokua

Mayor Kirk Caldwell has declared June 5 Mental Health Kokua Day, and that evening Makaha Sons, and Keola and Moana Beamer will appear at historic Hawaii Theatre as a fundraiser for Mental Health Kokua (MHK), the oldest private nonprofit 501(c)(3) mental health organization in the state.

Proceeds from the concert will fund MHK’s Chinatown outreach, one of the areas most visibly, physically, culturally and economically affected by homelessness. MHK is committed to ending homelessness in the Chinatown area by 2016.

Through extensive research and surveys, MHK, which was founded in 1973, discovered that the majority of homeless in Chinatown have serious health and/or mental conditions.

These health problems result in 81.6 percent of the area’s homeless receiving emergency room treatment more than three times per year. Our research statistics also show that 40.8 percent of them have been attacked or beaten during the past 6.7 years, the average time of their homelessness.

Motivated by these facts, MHK is even more determined to expand our commitment to offer proper resources, support and treatment to the homeless in the Chinatown area. Our current efforts include providing a new start through outreach that encompasses ongoing support services.

For example, MHK finds housing and guarantees rent payment. It also acts as a liaison with neighbors. Those served by the program continue to receive mental health services, case management and even help obtaining educational scholarships. MHK’s community- based approach assists persons recovering from serious mental illness in achieving their optimum level of independent living.

To help engage the community, MHK is sponsoring a poster contest for all high school students on Oahu. Fifty students to submit a poster will receive a free ticket to the June 5 concert. The theme of the posters is “Why we should care for and respect people experiencing homelessness.”

Call Hawaii Theatre at 528- 0506 for tickets to this important benefit concert. MHK is always in need of monetary donations, as well as gifts of clothing, goods and services. Taxdeductible donations can be made at mhkhawaii.org or by calling 737-2523.