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Protecting Those Who Continue to Serve

PPE Resilience Hubs

Without a supply of masks, gloves, and other PPE, Heather Lusk and her staff, volunteers, and community partners can’t work safely in the field or in their clinic. Unless they find more, quickly, they may not be able to continue their lifesaving work at all. “It’s been very challenging,” says Lusk, the Executive Director for the Hawai‘i Health and Harm Reduction Center (HHHRC), which directly serves about 1,500 people a year, who are often young, LGBTQ+, and at high risk for homelessness, drug use, and chronic disease. The 10,000 hygiene kits they distribute, and the frequent food distribution days they hold with community partners, reach many more.

Since the CDC issued guidance that anyone in public should wear a protective mask, many service organizations are facing the same vital issue. When the state’s Behavioral Health & Homelessness Statewide Unified Response Group (BHHSURG) surveyed local providers of behavioral health care and social services, more than 175 groups responded that they urgently needed more PPE. “The needs are in the tens of thousands of masks, gloves, gowns, and face shields,” says Joshua Holmes, an epidemiologist at the Hawai‘i State Department of Health. Every piece counts.

At the same time, there has been an outpouring from community members who want to do something to lend a hand—but it’s been hard to know how to connect individuals who may have extra PPE with the workers and volunteers who urgently need them to keep serving. “I have had conversations with people in the community who are just trying to find out how they can help,” says Charmaine Hauanio-Kuewa, community liaison for the Salvation Army Kroc Center Hawai‘i.

With a grant from the Hawai‘i Resilience Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, a partnership was established with BHHSURG, the KROC Center in Kapolei, the KEY Project in Kahaluu, and YMCA in Kalihi to create a solution. As of April 9, these three community organizations have transformed into “resilience hubs,” where anyone can drop off PPE, including homemade, washable face masks and unopened store-bought masks, gloves, gowns, and face shields. Donations are entered into a Department of Health database, where they will be efficiently matched up with recipient organizations, like HHHRC, that have indicated a need.

The three hubs have deep community ties, and long experience handling and distributing needed resources. Whether it’s one homemade aloha-print face mask, or three hundred sterile gowns, says Hauanio-Kuewa, of the KROC Center, “We’re ready.”

Resilience Hub locations and drop-off hours are as follows:

KROC Center in Kapolei
Address: 91-3257 Kualakai Parkway, Ewa Beach, HI 96744
Hours for drop off: 9:00am – 11:00am
Phone Number: (808) 682-5505

KEY Project
Address: 47-200 Waihee Road, Kaneohe, HI 96744
Hours for drop off: 9:00am – 12:00pm
Phone Number: (808) 239-5777

Kalihi YMCA
Address: 1335 Kalihi Street, Honolulu, HI 96819
Hours for drop off: 9:00am – 11:00am
Phone Number: (808) 848-2494

Behavioral health workers and social service providers across the state can visit www.bhhsurg.hawaii.gov to make a request for donated PPE. (Sorry, no walk in requests at the Hubs are accepted at this time.)

Protecting Those Who Continue to Serve
Protecting Those Who Continue to Serve
Protecting Those Who Continue to Serve

Photos provided by: HHHRC & KEY Project