POIPU — There was a mother of three who had family, a house and a job waiting, said Mabel Fujiuchi, director of the Kauai Economic Opportunity Thursday evening before an audience of Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association members at the Sheraton Kauai.
“This is a new dimension to our offerings to the homeless,” Fujiuchi said. “She had a family waiting. They just couldn’t afford to connect. Under terms of this program, we will offer half of the cost. The family comes up with the remaining costs. We have several people who fit these criteria, and that will be welcome news.”
As part of its opening, the HLTA presented Kauai Economic Opportunity with a $25,000 award from the Hawaii Hotel Industry Foundation to help with reuniting homeless with their families.
“We started this last year when the HLTA hosted its General Membership Meeting on Maui,” said Mufi Hannamann, the HLTA president and CEO. “We worked with Mayor Alan Arakawa and his endorsed agency working with homeless. The program met with great success, we are doing it here on Kauai where we are hosting the 189th HLTA General Membership Meeting.”
The HLTA General Membership meeting opened Thursday at the Sheraton Kauai Resort and will continue through Sunday with a paniolo Barbeque Saturday at the Omao Ranch, featuring Kauai products and vendors.
“This is a great opportunity for people to get together and renew acquaintances as we move forward,” Hannemann said.
The invitation-only event will feature Makaweli beef, Omao Ranch grilled lamb, roasted Kaneshiro pig, Kauai shrimp and other Kauai agricultural products with a prize for the best cowboy or cowgirl outfit.
Entertainment, including line dancing, will be provided by Not My First Rodeo.
Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., in welcoming delegates to the Garden Isle, said he just returned from a trip to Japan where his discussions with various cities revealed the same three concerns — agriculture, culture and tourism.
“This just brings it all home to Kauai,” Carvalho said. “We have the same problems, and the convention offers an opportunity to network and see what we can do.”