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‘We’re Here to Help’

Photos courtesy of Novelyn Hinazumi

So says Novelyn Hinazumi, Kauai director of Child & Family Service, which provides 20 different programs to help struggling families: ‘There’s always a potential in every family to have the life they want.’

Strong families build strong communities, and Novelyn Hinazumi is committed to building this strength as director of Kauai programs for Child & Family Service. She oversees the 20 programs offered by the nonprofit, which provide hope to struggling families by giving them ample opportunities to make positive changes.

Domestic violence, child abuse and neglect are some of the many challenges that local families can face. CFS focuses on giving families the tools they need to take preventative measures before these detrimental issues occur and Child Protective Services intervenes.

“There’s always a potential in every family to have the life they want,” assures Hinazumi.

CFS has two family centers on Kauai, one in Kapaa called Hale Ho’omalu, and the other in Waimea, named Nana’s House. These refuges offer many free services, including counseling and case management. The centers also have food pantries and clothing closets for those in need.

“The family won’t succeed if it doesn’t have the basic necessities first,” explains Hinazumi, who adds that the houses are “very warm and inviting.”

Approximately 400 families visit CFS food pantries each month.

Other services available to low-income families through CFS include Head Start Program, which serves as a preschool, helping children prepare for school.

“That way they will be successful in their careers and in life,” says Hinazumi.

There are eight Head Start Programs across the island, from Kilauea to Kekaha.

Children also benefit when the CFS Guild, a volunteer organization, provides gifts to keiki at Christmas as well as school supplies each year. During the holiday season, for example, CFS staff selects families that wouldn’t otherwise have presents under their Christmas trees. Their children create wish lists, which are turned into ornaments that volunteers select so that they may purchase presents.

“You should see the kids’ faces when they get their gifts,” says Hinazumi. “It just really touches your heart.”

The Backpack Brigade, which occurs at the start of every school year and donates supplies to keiki, is yet another way CFS and the Guild provide necessities to families in need.

“How terrible would it be to go to school without anything?” asks Hinazumi.

CFS, which also has intervention programs available, was started in the late 1800s in Honolulu. The organization reached Kauai more than 30 years ago. Many families have benefitted from its services over the years, including keiki who have gone on to become exemplary members of the community.

“That’s what we want to have happen,” says Hinazumi.

In 2012, CFS on Kauai served more than 900 clients. Hinazumi doesn’t believe she could find a more fulfilling job that helps quite so many families. She especially is convinced of this when she discovers how much CFS has made a difference in people’s lives.

“It’s so rewarding to actually hear from people how much you’ve helped them,” she says.

The Lihue resident started working for CFS nine years ago, when she moved to the island. She landed her current position in April 2013. Born in the Philippines and raised on Hawaii Island, she attributes her altruism to her parents, who also made a commitment to give back to the community. She and husband David, an employee of Grove Farm, hope they can instill this value in their children, Aaron (5) and Caitlin (3).

Prior to moving to Kauai, she obtained a psychology degree from University of Colorado-Boulder and a graduate degree in counseling psychology and counseling education from University of Colorado-Denver. She worked in therapy with families and children at a nonprofit in Colorado before acquiring a position with her current employer. The most challenging part of her job is insufficient funding to support all CFS services. Most of the financial support comes via state and federal governments, as well as grants from groups such as Wilcox Foundation.

Finances aside, no matter what the need, CFS is there to help.

“We’ll figure out how to help you,” says Hinazumi. “It doesn’t matter who you are, what’s going on; you come in, and we’ll make sure you get the services you need to help your families.”

She emphasizes there is no shame in asking for help.

“Everybody needs a helping hand sometimes,” says Hinazumi. “We’re not here to judge. We’re here to help.”

Child & Family Service, Kauai Office
2970 Kele St., Ste. 203, Lihue