St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church is stepping up its outreach game by bringing on board a program to help families with life-threatening illnesses.
The church has added the HUGS program (Help, Understanding and Group Support) to its roster of ministries, and in the process made Kauai the first neighbor island to offer HUGS to families.
“We want to be the local presence for HUGS on Kauai and be the Kauai heart behind it,” said the Rev. Andrew McMullen.
HUGS is a nonprofit that provides long-term support to Hawaii families caring for a seriously ill children. Programs focus on supporting the child and family emotionally, physically, financially and spiritually.
What St. Michael will be involved in is still evolving.
“There are camps and outings, social functions and ways for fellowship and support, and all of that is something we’re hoping will come to fruition,” McMullen said. “It’s not just a check, it’s hands and heart.”
HUGS does provide financial support for things like transportation costs for families to be with their children, and other needs that aren’t covered by insurance.
“There’s a hole there and HUGS fills it,” McMullen said. “That’s the fundamental purpose of what HUGS does.”
The idea of bringing HUGS on board at St. Michael and All Angels was sparked at the beginning of 2018 during a leadership retreat, when there was a focus on strengthening community outreach.
Parishioner Marilyn Allen suggested HUGS as an option and discovered that there was no presence for the statewide organization on Kauai.
After researching the needs of the island through the HUGS staff and process, Allen and the steering committee dedicated to the mission found more than 15 families caring for children with life-threatening illnesses.
“Many of these families have limited resources available to them for emergency treatment and travel, so we decided to lend a hand and give a HUG,” Allen said.
The program is gaining speed at St. Michael, which hopes to be the point of contact for anyone from Kauai.
Fundraising is going to be the lifeblood for the program, McMullen said.
And the HUGS steering committee at St. Michael has come up with a creative way to kick off the fundraising — a 1920s-themed murder mystery dinner at Gaylord’s Restaurant on Sunday, Oct. 21.
“Deck yourself out in 1920s garb and step back in time at Gaylord’s,” Allen said. “While a sumptuous dinner is being served, there’s an exciting silent auction going on. All of the sudden, an intriguing mystery needs to be solved.”
The interactive play is entitled “Murder at Kilohana,” written by Wil Welsh and Ihor Wolosenko.
Dinner guests do a little gumshoeing themselves as the cast works to solve the “Who Dunnit” mystery. Pianist Monica Chung will play roaring ‘20s music, accompanied by vocalist Deb Baumung in the lounge.
The limit is 150 guests, and tickets are $120.
McMullen said the big undertaking is the first of many outreaches for the new program at St. Michael and All Angels.
“The steering committee behind this is incredible. They’re just incredible people with huge hearts, and they’re driven,” he said.
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Jessica Else, staff reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or email@example.com.