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Hawaiʻi Community Foundation
COVID-19 Response

Creating Touchpoints in a Distanced World

Boys and Girls Club of Hawai‘i
November 3, 2020

Prior to March, Tina Albao, Kaua‘i Director of Development and Operations for the Boys and Girls Club of Hawai‘i (BGCH), ran afterschool programs at sites around the island that provided enrichment and a safe place for youth, and supported strong connections between keiki, families, and the club’s staff.

When COVID-19 struck, Albao knew that it was more important than ever to continue the programs: “In some households, both parents were immediately not working. And even if their parents were still working, some of the kids were alone in the house.” BGCH families who had participated in programs in the past would need all the support and supervision they could get.

Albao also knew that funding might suffer at a time when they were needed the most, so she got on the phone. “I called a long list of stakeholders,” says Albao, “and Kukui‘ula was the one that said, “We are looking into how we can help you—right now.” The brand-new The Club at Kukui‘ula Community Benefit Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, created by residents and management of the Kukui‘ula community on Kaua‘i’s south shore, came through with a $15,000 grant.

During the stay-at-home order, Albao’s team created online programs, using Instagram Live, Zoom, and Google Classroom to keep kids engaged and learning with activities like karaoke, educational games, and even Zoom hide and seek.

They worked hard to stay truly connected to kids’ lives, even if that meant mailing a grocery card to a child who mentioned on Zoom that their mom had lost her job. “We call them touchpoints,” says Albao. “Anything can be a touchpoint—it’s an opportunity to make their lives better.”

Then, when it was safe to do so, the BGCH began an in-person, socially distanced four-week summer program that served 125 children—the program’s maximum capacity—across four sites on Kaua‘i.

Albao knows she and her staff are making a difference to keiki like Neveahlani Graham, a Kōloa middle-schooler who was adopted from the foster care system. Neveah likes to play basketball, read, and see her friends—and she especially loves to see her sister, who comes to the Boys and Girls Club but is still in foster care. The BGCH has helped her become more outgoing, self-confident, and responsible, says Neveah’s mom Sharon. Neveah shares that when she comes back from a visit to the Boys and Girls Club, “I feel really happy.”

Boys and Girls Club of Hawai‘i