Vigil to raise awareness for homeless

LIHUE — A week before Thanksgiving, Kauai residents will have the opportunity to recognize people in the community who are less fortunate than themselves.

“While many individuals and families live on very low incomes, even more are one paycheck or one financial disaster away from losing their housing,” said Debra de Luis, secretary of KCA. “It can happen to many of us, particularly people who have few family connections or other local supports.”

It’s crucial to remember houseless people deserve housing, de Luis said.

“It’s important to humanize homeless people and to avoid stereotyping. (They) have hopes and dreams, who strive to survive, just like everyone else,” she said.

That’s why, on Monday, they will be hosting a candlelight vigil to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless on the Garden Isle.

The vigil coincides with a national movement called “Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week,” which takes place the week before Thanksgiving.

de Luis hopes the vigil will shed light on the challenges homeless people face on Kauai.

“It’s an opportunity to show our respect to our houseless constituents and give them a voice as well as a hot meal and a few goodies,” she said.

The vigil starts 5:30 p.m. at Lihue United Church. Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. will be the keynote speaker and Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura will discuss affordable housing.

The vigil will provide homeless people with the opportunity to tell their story.

“For the broader community, it’s a chance to mingle with a mixed group, receive some inspiration, pray a bit and share a free meal,” de Luis said.

According to the 2016 homeless persons point-in-time count, a Department of Health and Services record of homeless people in the state, there were 442 homeless people on the Garden Isle. That is a 30 percent increase from 2015.

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Jenna Carpenter, county reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or jcarpenter@thegardenisland.com.

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