A Well-stuffed IHS Contribution

Dan Boylan
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Wednesday - November 30, 2005
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The Boylan family Thanksgiving began at noon in Makakilo this year, at the lovely hillside home (there’s no other kind in Makakilo) of cousin Tony, his wife Laurie, and daughters Shantell, Tiffany and Jocelyn.

I began with the pupu plate - actually a couple of them: shrimp cocktail, marinated green beans, poke, Aunty Judy’s banana lumpia, potato chips and dip, won ton (well, ... several won ton), and three Bud Lites (otherwise known as near beer).

Then came the meal. I began, of course, with turkey, then ham, some of Uncle Ben’s kal bi, stuffing, mashed potatoes (aka haole rice) - the stuffing and potatoes liberally covered with gravy - baked beans and Portuguese sausage, walnut shrimp, noodles, and black olives.

That was my first trip through the serving line. My second spoke to my Midwestern, thoroughly haole origins. I took another helping of mashed potatoes, a rather large second helping, covered it with gravy and added another portion of cranberry jelly on the side.

Holy moly, it was good. But because I’ve been carefully watching my weight for the past few months, I did not have a dinner roll with either of my plates, nor did I have a slice of the high-strung Filipina’s lovely-looking pumpkin pies.

No, sir. I’m on a strict diet, and I knew the Boylan crew had another stop before pau eat - in faraway Hawaii Kai, at the home of No. 1 son’s girlfriend’s family - whom the high-strung Filipina, my daughter (a high-strung ethnic chop suey in training) and I had never met.

I knew we needed to make a good impression; that means, of course, that I must not insult the hosts by not eating. So I sacrificed myself to four different and delicious varieties of poke, deep-fried turkey to die for, mashed potatoes and gravy (and yes, I had seconds again), homemade cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, salad (the diet, remember), green bean casserole, and Grandma Kaneshiro’s corn chowder. Oh, and three glasses of red wine.

I had passed up dessert in Makakilo, so that I could eat it in Hawaii Kai. And eat it I did - a slice of the high-strung Filipina’s pumpkin pie and a square of sweet potato haupia pie. The pumpkin was good, the sweet potato haupia pie was ecstasy.

As my dear readers can see, even on my highly disciplined diet, I ate well on Thanksgiving - as, I’m sure, did the vast majority of my fellow citizens of the great state (and former Republic) of Hawaii.

I know they ate well at the Sumner Street men’s shelter at the Institute for Human Services. The chefs and preparers of the Hilton Hawaiian Village were there, as they have been for the past 10 years, putting out a traditional Thanksgiving feed for the homeless.

Businesses and individuals are particularly generous to charities this time of year. “The holiday season is the time most people donate,” says IHS’s Lynn Maunakea. “We count on the holiday income to fund us for the rest of the year.”

Thus Maunakea is alarmed. IHS recently began its annual holiday fund-raising campaign. The first week’s take ran 37 percent behind previous years.

“We know Hawaii’s economy is doing well,” says Maunakea. “Employment is high. When that’s the case, people tend to be generous. But people have been writing a lot of checks to charities this year - to help with victims of the tsunami in Asia, to aid those made homeless by the hurricane Katrina. It may be difficult to write another.”

IHS certainly needs - and deserves - those checks. The Institute’s annual budget is $5 million, 1.5 million crucial dollars of which come from individual contributions. Those contributions help the IHS serve 900 hot meals a day, 365 days a year, to some 350-400 of Honolulu’s homeless - half of whom are men, the rest families and single women and children.

The homeless sleep in two IHS dormitories. On some nights there aren’t enough beds, so the overflow are allowed to spread their mats on the Institute’s gated garage floor. “Always,” Maunakea says, “we try to treat our guests with respect.”

In-kind donations of Christmas gifts for the children and toiletries for the women are strong this year. And church groups, businesses and families continue to volunteer to prepare all the scheduled meals. “What seems to be slow is the cash,” says Maunakea.

I hear her. I didn’t respond to the Institute’s recent fund-raising letter. And when I think back over the year, maybe I sent a $25 check - or two. But not much. Certainly not enough, considering the work IHS does.

I think I’ll calculate the value of the small-portioned meals I ate this past Thanksgiving Day, multiply by something or other, write a check - send it to IHS, 350 Sumner St., Honolulu 96817 - and whisper a thanks to the Institute for Human Services.

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