WAILUA — Denise looks forward to Mondays and the week of volunteering at the Ho‘omana Thrift Store on Kuamoo Road in Wailua.
“I look forward to coming here after the weekend,” the participant from First to Work said. “I like working here.”
Denise’s duties include helping put away donations dropped off during the store’s normal operating hours, keeping the facility orderly and looking good as well as other duties assigned by the co-directors Anela Pa and Rowena Pangan.
Denise is just one of the volunteers who are referred by different agencies, including the schools, First to Work, Goodwill, the Department of Labor, courts, and more. She and other participants at Ho‘omana work on developing job and life skills by being involved in the store’s operations.
“We were supposed to have the high school participants here,” Pangan said. “But they were involved in the Special Olympics games on Oahu so they must have jet lag since a lot of them participated through a lot of the events.”
Ho‘omana Thrift Store needs help, though, said Ron Clark, a 10-year board member.
“We have a matching grant,” Clark said. “But we need contributions because it is a matching grant.”
Proceeds from the Ho‘omana Thrift Store is one of the main revenue source for the the program that services people from youth through adulthood.
“We’re currently doing a 15-year update on policies and programs,” Pa said. “We’ll be looking upgrading and training our board of directors and staff. And the building needs a lot of work because it is old. We need light fixtures — we’re waiting on our electrician to finish work, and the back of the building needs maintenance work. We’ve been here for 15 years, and we want to be here for another 15 years, and beyond.”
Pa said the building formerly housed Rehabilitation Kauai, or RUK, and the lease is held by the Smith family with a provision that the facility be used for rehabilitative work.
“It sat idle for awhile after RUK closed,” Pa said. “LaFrance Kapaka got the idea of using the thrift store as a training site for special needs clients. We have been doing this from the start.”
She said Ho‘omana has a grant application pending with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for a matching grant that would help the program with its current needs and a look toward the next step.
“It would be nice to have building improvements,” Pa said. “And, for a vision to the future, we’d like to see the addition of a commercial kitchen and laundry facility where our participants can learn skills in those areas.”
Pa said Ho‘omana Thrift Store will also host a Black Friday special where all clothing will be priced at a dollar, and everything else in the store will be specially-priced with at least half off the suggested tag price.
Ho‘omana Thrift Store is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on Kuamo‘o Road, behind the Smith’s facility on the banks of the Wailua River.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.