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by Brittany Ross, student writer

Seeing homeless people is a common experience that HPU students have on Fort Street Mall. The River of Life Mission is one way that students lend a helping hand to those in need and perhaps make a difference in their lives.

The mission is a faith-based organization that has been helping people who are down and out for the past 20 years. It started by passing out meals from the back of a car. Today the mission is known as a place of rescue, rehabilitation, and reintegration for all in need.

Those who turn to the mission for help range from addicts, the mentally ill, veterans, the elderly, and even those who are not homeless but cannot afford to feed their families. The mission supports all ages, races, religions, and educational backgrounds.

The River of Life Mission provides three meals a day, showers, shaves, clothing, toiletries, medical and legal aid. Social workers help the guests of the mission with everything from managing their affairs to getting them a bus pass. Job training, sewing classes, GED classes, and computer classes are also offered, along with substance abuse counseling and chapel services. The mission gives those in need the tools to get started, and then helps them to begin their new lives.

The River of Life Mission has a staff that is there everyday helping out, but volunteers are also crucial to running the mission. Every semester the mission has HPU students who come help serve meals.
“ It was such a great experience,” said Bridget Hall, nursing student at HPU. “They would sit and tell me their life stories. Many of them were not actually homeless, but were just in a rough time in their lives and needed a little extra help.”

Another way to help out is by donating old clothes or items that you do not use anymore to the free clothing store at the mission.

“ I think the River of Life is the best mission to donate to because anytime I have donated something, I know someone will use it. If I donate shoes one day, I’ll see someone walking down the street wearing them the next day,” says Anthony Marlin, vice president of the Project Management Club.
In 2005, the free store at the mission distributed over 100,000 articles of clothing, and overb 3,000 appliances and furniture items.

“ We offer many ways to help here and we are always looking for volunteers,” says Shervelle Gardner, director of operations at the mission. “People tend to think that Christmas and Thanksgiving is the time when we need the most help, so we receive an overabundance of volunteers during these times. The mission needs more help from volunteers on the regular days of the year.”

When the holiday season ends and people are not thinking about volunteering as much, the problems that the needy face do not disappear. The need for help is present all year round, and any free time that you have to volunteer is be greatly appreciated. The way that a student can get involved is as simple as calling the mission and telling them you would like to help.

For more information visit the River of Life Mission Web site at www.riveroflifemission.org or call 524-7656. It is located on 101 N. Pauahi Street in Honolulu.




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