‘Peas’ trying to float rubber duckies in Wailua

Dennis Fujimoto

the garden island

WAILUA — Rubber duckies will help the peas.

The public is invited to get behind a rubber duck to benefit the Ho‘omana Thrift Shop with its mission of trying to help those with special needs, said Alison Pa, who describes herself as one of the peas.

“We’re all in this together,” she said. “Like peas in a pod. We’re just peas.”

This is the first time in Ho‘omana’s eight-year history the two ladies, Pa and Rowena Contrades-Pagan, will be hosting a rubber ducky race which will take place Oct. 15 from 10 a.m. on the banks of the Wailua River.

People can get behind their ducks, available in three divisions, starting now by stopping, or calling the thrift store located behind the Smith’s Motorboating booth on the Wailua River on Kuamo‘o Road in Wailua.

“We are so grateful to the Smith family who allowed us to take over the space once occupied by Rehabilitation Unlimited Kaua‘i,” Contrades-Pagan said, pointing out one of the rooms, “The Library,” where her relative used to work doing filing for RUK. “We are also thankful for all the community support throughout our eight years for their contributions and patronage of the thrift shop.”

Rubber duckies are available for the $5, $10, or $20 races, the higher value duckies yielding better valued prizes, Pa said.

“We are still soliciting contributions from the community for prizes,” Pa said. “And, people who have winning duckies don’t need to be present to earn their prizes.”

Oct. 15 coincides with the eighth anniversary of the Ho‘omana Thrift Store and in addition to the rubber ducky race which will be held between the two bridges on Wailua River, the thrift shop will have a one-day-only sale along with hot dogs, sandwiches, cold non-alcoholic beverages and chips for a nominal donation, Contrades-Pagan said. Everything will be taking place between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The little thrift store loses its identity past the front door; the inside  is broken down into a family home, having a kitchen, a boys’ room, the library, a child and infant room and leading into an area where a collection of furniture awaits new life.

“See the wet paint sign?” Contrades-Pagan said. “That was a table headed for the dumpster, but we have people who volunteer to refinish furniture and now, this piece is able to find new life in someone’s home.”

Similarly, the volunteers and clients who pass through the Ho‘omana thrift store find new life.

“The term ‘ho‘omana’ comes from two words, ‘ho‘o’ which means action, or to cause something to happen, and ‘mana’ which defines to authority,” Pa said. “For us, ‘ho‘omana’ means empowerment.”

She said they work with special needs students, focusing on both Kaua‘i and Kapa‘a high schools, and for many of these students, they are entitled to Department of Education services which many of the students, or their parents, are not always aware of.

“We empower parents to know what the students are entitled to, or need, what to look for, and what questions to ask,” Pa said, noting Ho‘omana thrift store works with the Learning Disabilities Association of Hawai‘i. “Ho‘omana thrift store offers training for those with special needs, emphasizing job skills and life skills.”

Pa noted a special workshop, “Understanding the Evaluation Process,” which is scheduled for July 27 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Lihu‘e Neighborhood Center.

The workshop is for parents of children with disabilities and the professionals who support them, providing information on becoming familiar with the evaluation process and different assessments available for children and learning how to understand and utilize specific information from reports while preparing for eligibility determination and the development of the Individualized Education Program.

Reservations are required for this workshop and can be made by calling 1-800-533-9684.

Contrades-Pagan said when students leave the program after graduating from high school, they have a sense of independence and self-sufficiency.

While at Ho‘omana, students who put in volunteer work earn Makana money which can be used to purchase items in the store, that practice leading from financial literacy to more sophisticated banking education, Contrades-Pagan said.

Ho‘omana thrift store is also a site for the First to Work program, where volunteers meet their eligibility requirements while gaining work experience, she said.

“We have sales on every day we’re open,” Pa said. “Each day changes and people need to come in to see what’s available. These sales are our way of giving back to the community family.”

She said people can start ordering their rubber duckies, although Ho‘omana is either cash or checks with no accommodation for credit cards.

Store hours are Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and its phone number is 821-2818.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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