WAILUKU – The Aloha Initiative co-founder Keith Regan today announced that community meetings are scheduled on Sunday, May 1, at 3 p.m. at Kahului Hongwanji Mission social hall and Tuesday, May 3, at 6:30 p.m. at Door of Faith Church to provide information to prospective host families and other volunteers wanting to help with The Aloha Initiative, a project led by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui to provide citizens of Japan who have been displaced by the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis with a warm and welcome home.
The meetings will include a presentation by Dr. Al Arensdorf, a Red Cross trainer in disaster mental health and in psychological first aid, on: (1) what to expect – the “normal emotional reactions” to earthquake/tsunami disasters; (2) how to use an evidence-based intervention called, “Psychological First Aid,” both for host families and disaster workers and for persons displaced by disaster; and (3) tips for both adults and children as to how to cope and how to recover by being resilient.
Regan of Wailuku and Rev. Jeffrey Soga of Kahului, along with Roy Tominaga of Honolulu returned from the Tohoku region last Friday after meeting with government and nonprofit organization leaders, including Fukushima City Mayor Takanori Seto, Miyagi Prefecture Councilor Toshiaki Sugawara, and Sendai City Deputy Mayor Nobuyoshi Inaba to discuss The Aloha Initiative. A press conference was held in Fukushima City and, since then, the program has received TV and newspaper exposure in Japan. The tremendous publicity has resulted in The Aloha Initiative phone in Japan ringing off the hook with inquiries and requests to sign up for the program.
To date, over 130 families throughout Hawaii have signed up to open their hearts and homes to the people of Japan, and over $150,000 in pledges has been received to help defray the transportation and insurance costs. “More host families and donations are needed to meet the demand,” said co-founder Lynn Araki-Regan.
“We are so grateful for the many students from various schools such as Emmanuel Lutheran School, King Kekaulike High School, St. Anthony Junior-Senior High School, St. Anthony Grade School, Kamehameha Schools – Maui Campus, Pomaikai Elementary School, Kansha Preschool, Wailuku Hongwanji Preschool, Kahului Hongwanji Preschool, and Baldwin High School as well as members of our Maui Nui community who took time out of their busy schedules to use their creative skills in doing scrunchies, headbands, necklaces, artwork, poetry, and other expressions of hope for the children of the Tohoku region of Japan,” said Regan. “When we presented the gifts to those living in the extremely chilly shelters, they were extremely touched.”
To sign up to volunteer, visit www.AlohaInitiative.com or call 280-1299.