Homeless man has hope

HANAPEPE – On Sunday, Patrick Wayne Rita spent the night in his truck at Salt Pond Beach Park.

After given 80 days to vacate his home, the 62-year-old is one day removed from moving out of the place he’s called home for 10 years.

“Sunday night was my first night sleeping without my CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine,” Rita said. “I feel like I’ve been run over by one tanker truck. I’m on borrowed time.”

Although illegal in Hawaii to sleep in one’s vehicle on public property between 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., he said he has no option.

Rita signed an agreement over two and a half months ago with his former landlord, Flowers West, which stated that he had 60 days to move out of his home. Moving day — June 30 — came and went and Rita was unable to vacate due to numerous ailments, a low income and nowhere to turn.

Flowers West attorney Sherman Shiraishi gave Rita 19 additional days to relocate his belongings.

“We only gave the extension because I know it’s difficult for him to move out,” Shiraishi said.

The extension offered Rita some relief, but Rita ran into a hurdle when he was rushed to the hospital one day after his projected move date.

“I started retaining water from doing too much work moving – almost 60 pounds of fluid and I almost went into congestive heart failure and pneumonia,” he said. “I was worried I wasn’t going to make it out.”

After 10 days at Wilcox Memorial Hospital, Rita pulled through.

Anahola resident Jaana Makipaa set up an online fundraiser after reading Rita’s story in The Garden Island on July 1.

“When I read his article in the paper, I felt I wanted to do something and that was the best thing for him I could do,” she said. “To be honest, I felt for him so much because I had a scare last year. I thought I was going to be homeless. I’m disabled as well. I just got incredibly lucky to find a home.”

After 19 days, 34 people donated a total of $1,020 to Rita.

“Angels come in all shapes, forms and facets and they help in all shapes, forms and facets,” Rita said after learning of his donation fund Monday.

Makipaa said she was “blown away by all the kindness” after donors gave over $200 on the first day of fundraising.

“It’s just so nice to see that there’s some aloha and strangers donating money, and people from the Mainland donating,” she said. “For me, that made me cry.”

With the funds, Rita said he’ll purchase a portable-electricity and solar-charger system to hook up to his CPAP machine.

Makipaa added she’s proud of Kauai for supporting Rita.

“There’s so many people who were opening up their hearts to him,” she said.

Rita, who has yet to find housing, said he’s found new hope after his ordeal.

“I find out there’s some good people out there, “ he said. “I was beginning to lose faith in mankind. God bless them.”

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