KAPA‘A — The Kaua‘i resident and professional fire dancer who goes by the stage name of Honu-Leia found herself in a precarious financial predicament, living out of her car after several gigs dried up as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Honu-Leia’s income is based predominantly on tourism, and down on her luck with nowhere to turn and no income in sight, Honu-Leia was referred by her friend to The Pandemic Of Love Kaua‘i, a Florida-based organization created in March of 2020 boasting 650 volunteers who match donors to people in need.
To date, the organization has donated nearly $40 million to various people in need, with no pre-existing qualifications.
After submitting her application in April and getting accepted to The Pandemic Of Love Kaua’i, she was able to get some of her essential needs met.
“When I was a fire dancer, I was making a decent amount of money a month, and The Pandemic of Love Kaua’i provided me a little boost to get by,” Honu-Leia said.
For a person living a transient life, a small donation can go a long way, she said.
“The small amount of money you get for a person living out of their car or tent, you learn to stretch money,” Honu-Leia said. “Even a small donation can help me get new employment or put food in my belly.”
Feeling the holiday spirit
Athena Nevarez and her husband have been furloughed workers since April from working in the hospitality industry at the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas.
Nevarez, who has a 2-year-old child, was unable to make her $400 monthly car payment. The Pandemic of Love Kaua’i was able to provide her temporary relief.
“It is easy to find free food, but when someone was able to help out with a car payment, that helped,” said Nevarez, who admits to living off of her savings and credit cards for the last six months. “I don’t know if I can use it again next year.”
The power of giving
Anna Meyers, a volunteer with The Pandemic of Love Kaua‘i, said helping people like Honu-Leia and Nevarez is extremely gratifying.
“I volunteer at several different places because this is helping people, and that is why The Pandemic Of Love Kaua’i is here, to help people,” Meyers said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a trickle-down effect on this island and county, especially workers involved in the visitor industry.
“I know things aren’t going to rapidly change, but maybe the opportunity will arise (for me) in a different field, and I can find something stable,” Honu-Leia said. “It would be nice to know that I have the resources to get a job even if there is a second lockdown.”
Honu-Leia doesn’t anticipate the pandemic or the residual effects of it to be over any time soon.
“That is the reality for all performers and a lot of people that work in the tourist industry,” Honu-Leia said. “It’s hard because my career choice revolves around social gatherings, and I don’t think that is going to happen for the next five years.”
The Pandemic Of Love Kaua‘i has a surplus of donors, and they are in search of people in need of financial assistance.
“We show people how easy it is to ask for help and give help anonymously,” Anna Meyers said. “We are happy to be helping, and that is why we are around.”
For more information on The Pandemic of Love Kaua‘i, for donors or those seeking help, see the Facebook page fb.me/PandemicOfLoveKauai, or the website pandemicoflovekauai.com.
This story was updated on Monday, Nov. 30 at 9:52 a.m. to correct the spelling of Honu-Leia’s name.
Jason Blasco, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.