Remembering the homeless

LIHUE — A homeless woman who was killed in an accident last week was remembered by friends as kind and independent.

Known as the woman with the helmet, Paulanna Larish, 60, was struck by two cars on their morning commute down Rice Street Oct. 7. Some homeless in Lihue said they didn’t know her well, but those who did said she usually kept to herself but when approached, was friendly.

“She walked back and forth to Walmart and I would see her,” Linda Jester said. “She would talk to you but she always seemed to be someplace else.”

Jester said she knew Larish for around 10 years in the Lihue area. She would ask Larish if she needed something to eat or how her day was going. Although she didn’t say much, the woman would smile a lot when they talked.

Larish was mellow and never lashed out at anyone, she added.

“She (Larish) took care of herself and never asked anybody for anything,” Jester.

Another homeless person died over the weekend. A man was found dead Saturday on a vacant parcel near the intersection of Alae and Kekaha roads. Kauai police are investigating and have not released the victim’s name, but say he was believed to be in his 70s.

Jester said the man was her friend. She said he was leaning up against a school when he died. She described him as a good character and said they supported one another while in a difficult situation.

“He laughed a lot and told a lot of jokes,” Jester said. “He would give you the last of his money to feed you.”

That kindness also made the man a victim at times, Jester said. Friends had to watch out for him at night, or people, sometimes drug addicts, would give him a sob story, so we would give them his money.

Owen Mayer, a homeless Lihue man, said the man was always friendly but that he thought he drank too much. Another friend, David Mainaaupo, also homeless on Kauai, said the man had health problems. He recalled that the man would sit with his head to his knees from the pain in his midsection.

Being homeless does things to the people over time, and Jester said she also checks in with community mental health once every six months. She gets her medicine and just wants to be sure that everything is all right with her health.

The routine for the homeless is about getting in line for the Kauai Economic Opportunity homeless shelter, she said. There are not many nights that you can get a bed, so they end up spending the night in the nearby park or leaving for another location.

“We stay up a lot at night and sleep during the day,” Jester said.

Most homeless go to the library to update their information on the subsidized housing waiting lists, she said. Getting onto the library computers and doing something to try and help her situation makes you feel more normal, she added.

Stephanie Fernandes, KEO director for Homeless and Housing Programs, said KEO has Mana Olana overnight shelter to support 19 homeless people each night, with separate bays for single men and women, and three rooms for families.

It is a first come, first serve at 5 p.m. with a meal and check out at 7 a.m.

“We have the housing programs that we have, and if people are eligible then they may certainly receive the services,” Fernandes said.

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