Faith-Based Summit on Homelessness

Community Support

Faith-Based Summit on Homelessness


On March 14th, 2016, IHS responded to the faith-based community's plea for help by coordinating and hosting Hawaii's first Faith Summit on Homelessness at Central Union Church. While faith-based organizations do their best to meet the needs of homeless people coming to them for help, we often heard from many that they are overwhelmed and are in need of information and resources to help them help others.

Hawaiʻi's Faith-Based Summit on Homelessness built capacity in people of faith to better meet the needs of unsheltered homeless persons on their properties; partner with homeless service providers and government resources; and create ministries rooted in faith and founded on best practices. over 150 people representing more than 30 congregations attended this event.

Two plenary speakers provided great insight to the issue of homelessness:

Connie Mitchell, Executive Director of IHS presented on The Changing Face of Homelessness & Lessons Learned These Past 37 Years. 

Download Powerpoint Presentation Here 

State Attorney General, Doug Chin also presented on Legal Issues Surrounding Respite and Housing. 

Download Powerpoint Presentation Here 

Workshop presentation descriptions are posted below with links to materials provided by presenters. Some presentations were simply made orally, in which case no presentation is available. 

The conference booklet contains a series of interfaith approaches to homelessness and solicited by summit co-sponsor The Interfaith Alliance of Hawaii. Our hope is that our continued work together will help people draw upon their spiritual beliefs to act to address homelessness with compassion and real solutions. 

Download Conference Booklet Here

Hawaii State Attorney General, Doug Chin, delivers his plenary at the Faith Summit on Homelessness

Workshop 1: Who you gonna call? 
Jerry Coffee, IHS Clinical Director 
Justin Phillips, IHS Senior Field Outreach Manager 

Audience learned about  what to do when a homeless person comes to your campus. This included information about how to approach them, ascertain if they want help, and how to refer clients to social services. Discussions included how to best care for someone experiencing a mental health crisis and how to understand and respond to addiction. 

Download: Finding help: A human services directory for the State of Hawaii

Workshop 2: Wise Handouts 
Josh Jensen, IHS Volunteer Coordinator 
Rubie Helekahi, IHS Clinical Program & Training Coordinator 
Cheryl Takabayashi, Wellspring Covenant Church - Lay Minister 

Audience learned about how to decide when to give their funds and resources; when to refer to social service agencies; and how to work with case managers, especially if wanting to sponsor someone through treatment and/or housing. Discussion included the types of donations that are most helpful and when to give. 

Download: Welcome Home Basket How To Guide 

Workshop 3: Living and Talking Through Our Faith 
Terry Yasuko Ogawa, IHS Chaplain 
Cecilia Forham, The Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii 

Audience learned about how to connect their faith to their response to homelessness; including the range between charity and justice, and discern how to have the conversation when there are conflicting views about how best to engage. 

Download: Living and Talking Through Our Faith Workshop Presentation

Jun Yang, John Heidel, Cecilia Fordham and Dick Walenta at the Faith Summit on Homelessness

Workshop 4: Prophetic Witness
Gavin Thornton, Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law & Economic Justice, Executive Director
Betty Lou Larson, Catholic Charities of Hawaii, Social Policy & Legislative Liaison 
David Gierlach, St. Elizabeth's Church 
Bob Nakata, Faith Action for Community Equality 

Audience leanred how to address the systems that perpetuate homelessness, from housing policy, to public benefits, and minimum wages. Discussion included legislative bills that address homelessness in the 2016 legislative session, as well as ongoing need for future policy changes. 

Download: Partners In Care 2016 Legislative Priorities 
Download: Addressing Poverty in Hawaii Powerpoint Presentation 

Peanut Butter Ministry Award 

In keeping with the spirit of Father Claude DuTeil, IHS established an inaugural Peanut Butter Ministry Award and awarded it to St. Mary's Church of Moiliili for demonstrating an ability to transform its ministry to meet the needs of people who are homeless throughout its community. St. Mary's Church truly demonstrated leadership by establishing the St. Mary's of Moiliili Homeless Service Center that takes place on the last Thursday of every month. The center allows unsheltered and at-risk individuals to access free meals, receive haircuts, collect donated clothes, and access services - such as housing, employment, case management, and other social services. 

Former Executive Director, Fr. Richard Rowe (1990-1991) visits Fr. Gregory Johnson at St. Mary's of Moiliili

To refer homeless on your property, please send information to:

Vinnesha Bertola 
Homeless Outreach Program Manager
Contact: 808-447-2929

Faith-community individuals and organization may connect with IHS' Chaplaincy Program:

Terry Yasuko Ogawa
Chaplain &  Community Liaison
Contact: 808-447-2842 

Media & Marketing Inquiries: 

Kimo Carvalho
Community Relations Director & Spokesperson
Contact: 808-447-2845