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“Another family...” Those two simple yet eloquent words constituted the text message I received this morning from music producer Shawn Pimental. My first thought as my heart sank was, “Oh no...”
It seems the love, compassion, and generosity that is Shawn spread not only to all those who so quickly and willingly responded to his plea for help for the Clark family – “our” family – it also somehow permeated the air around his Honolulu recording studio, drawing another homeless family seeking a safe place to shelter for the night. Shawn and his wife Tehani discovered them late last night when they returned to his studio after a gig.
The new family: Manuel and Jessie Sanchez, their 4 year old son and two daughters, ages 7 and 12. While the children slept, Shawn and Tehani spent some time talking to Manuel and Jessie and gave them some food (they hadn’t eaten yesterday), a bit of cash, and several of the gift cards that had been donated for the Clarks – in hopes of addressing their most immediate needs. They discovered that the Sanchez’s had fled Puerto Rico seeking a safer life for the children, migrating first to Tennessee and then to Hawaiʻi when Tennessee’s severe weather became too much. Both Manuel and Jessie are able and eager to work, but have been unable to find employment. [Note: As a “territory” of the United States, Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens since 1917, so immigration status and work permits are not an issue.] The family stayed in a shelter for a short time but left after finding it unsafe for the children.
Shawn, who was preparing to leave this morning to perform at a concert in Japan, first took the time to post another plea for help on his Facebook page – and began receiving immediate responses. In his post he stated, “Many were inspired by what we did with the Clarks and it's turned out to be a beautiful example of aloha in the world. Someone said last week, “The politicians need to help the people." I say "No. the PEOPLE need to help the people.” Who wants to adopt this family? I can tell they're a loving family in an unfortunate circumstance. I will help you help them. Anyone...please help.”
I know from talking at length with Shawn that he and Tehani have spent and continue to spend countless hours helping the Clarks, in addition to caring for their own family and working at their careers. Shawn looked exhausted but determined when I last saw him a week ago, and he repeatedly stressed the fact that although there was (is) an immediate need to help the Clarks and get the babies off the streets into a clean, safe environment, there is a much bigger issue at stake when children and their parents are unable to find even emergency shelter while attempting to navigate the myriad, time-consuming, and often confusing requirements and paperwork required before being admitted to a shelter, whether on a short on a longer term basis – thus leaving them no alternative but to sleep on the streets. The sudden appearance of the Sanchez family almost literally on Shawn’s doorstep is testament to the truth of that statement – and brought the phrase “tip of the iceberg” to mind...
What you can do to help the Sanchez family
Several people who are fluent Spanish speakers have offered interpreter/translation assistance, but having multiple people on which to call if someone is not available is helpful. If you can donate food or clothing (or are a fluent Spanish speaker), please contact Tehani Gonzado Pimental via Facebook private message or email. You may also donate money at no charge via PayPal using Tehani’s email address (email@example.com) or Shawn’s (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the “To:” section (specify that it’s for the Sanchez family)
Thank you once again to the Pimentals, who continue to exemplify the meaning of the word “Aloha”. Many would not have blamed them if they’d chosen to provide the food, money, and gift cards to the Sanchez family and left it at that – after all, they’ve done more than their share in helping the Clarks. But that’s not who they are. Who – what - they are, is an example to all of us. One that we’d do well to emulate.
Originally from California, Iʻve lived on Oʻahu for a number of years. Music has always been my passion and Iʻm fortunate to be able to work with and support many of Hawaiʻiʻs musicians. For such a tiny speck in the middle of a very large ocean, we have an amazing wealth of talent here!