As word spread of music producer Shawn Pimental’s discovery of a family with two young daughters living on the street near his Honolulu music studio, Hawaiʻi’s music and hula communities were among the first to offer assistance. (See original story.)
Several people who stopped by Shawn’s studio to drop off donations were shocked when they recognized the mother, Tiffany, as a former hula sister from their well-known hula hālau (school), Kumu Hula Sonny Chingʻs Hālau Na Mamo O Pu'uanahulu, and word quickly began to spread. At the same time, a steady stream of musicians who know, have performed with, or have had albums produced by Shawn and who had heard of his quest to get the family into a shelter also stopped by to deliver donations of food, money and other items. Sufficient funds were donated by one small group of musicians to enable the family to spend several nights in a hotel. And then there was the community at large – people with no connection to either the music or the hula communities, many of whom had never met Shawn, who heard what was happening and simply wanted to help.
Over the past few days, Shawn and his wife Tehani have spent countless hours attempting to help the Clarks (who Shawn now refers to simply as “our” - the community’s - family) get into a shelter. Trying to make their way through what can only be described as a bureaucratic quagmire has been frustrating at best, not to mention exhausting. They have not given up, but they need help. Here’s where things stand at present:
Shawn and Tehani will continue to work with the Clark family (dad Matt, mom Tiffany, and daughters Trinity, age 1, and Destiny, age 3) to get them into a shelter, as well as to mentor and guide them. Shawn is providing some “tough love” as needed, but he’s not acting as an enabler. Matt and Tiffany are good people – a young couple who, without benefit of family to guide them, simply made a few bad choices. (Fortunately, drugs and alcohol are not issues.) Shawn is encouraging others to spend time with the Clarks as well, to help mentor them with basic life skills and provide encouragement and friendship.
On Saturday morning April 20, the Clarks must leave the hotel where they’ve stayed the past few nights. An offer has been made to let them use on a temporary basis an unfurnished studio apartment that is currently vacant near Shawn’s recording studio. This is where they’ll go once they check out of the hotel. It’s unknown at present how long they’ll be allowed to stay, but it is short-term only. They must still get into a shelter as quickly as possible.
The studio apartment has a stove and refrigerator, but nothing else. Donations are needed for groceries and a few household items, including some kitchen items and cookware (one or two pots and pans, kitchen utensils, and a few settings of dishes, glasses and cutlery, etc.); something for them to sleep on that is easily transportable and storable, such as futons; sheets, blankets, and pillows; bath towels... the bare essentials are sufficient for now. Shawn asks that people not donate entire sets of items such as dishes and pots and pans because they will need to be stored once the Clarks get into a shelter. And please, NO FURNITURE! This is a short-term stay and the more items they have to put in storage once they get into a shelter, the larger and more expensive the storage unit will need to be.
Gift cards to Foodland, Long’s, Wal-Mart and other nearby stores are also much appreciated.
Monetary donations are desperately needed to help with rent and utilities on the studio, as well as other necessities. Thanks to local musician Johnna Padeken Parel, a separate email address for the family is now available for PayPal donations (which are solely under Shawn’s control, and disbursed as needed). Donations to the account can be easily made at no cost via email by inserting either of these email addresses in the "To:" section on the PayPal site email@example.com or Shawn’s firstname.lastname@example.org
Donations may also be dropped off or mailed to Shawn’s studio:
Studio Ala Moana
1232 Waimanu St. Ste. C
Honolulu HI 96814-4306
(Note: Shawn will not always be at the studio to accept donations. Envelopes can be slipped through the door if they’re not too big, but larger donations should not be left unattended. If you would like to volunteer to be there on certain days or times for the purpose of accepting donations of food, clothing, and other items, please contact Shawn via Facebook or email.)
Both parents continue to look for work. Matt speaks fluent Cantonese and is a former Army Ranger. He last worked as a fish cutter. Tiffany has a high school education. Her previous jobs have been at Sam’s Club and McDonald’s.
Shawn has been contacted by the media, the city council, the mayor’s office, and more - all of whom want to help. Although grateful for the offers, he’s not interested in creating a media frenzy or obtaining special “front of the line” treatment for the Clarks at the expense of the many other families who need assistance. He wants to create an awareness, not point fingers. And he does not want to create in the Clarks a sense of entitlement simply because he took the time to stop late one night because he was devastated by the sight of babies sleeping on the street, and mentioned in a Facebook post what he saw - only to see his good will expand to the community at large.
Shawn is adamant about not being called a hero. He says the heroes are all those who have stepped up to offer whatever assistance they can. But he’s responsible for opening the eyes of dozens, if not hundreds, of people, and giving them the incentive to follow his lead and open their hearts. And for that, we all give thanks.
A late post script from Shawn:
"Hey everybody, listen to what happened today with "our family". So Matt (Dad) goes to Walmart to get a few things. He witnesses another homeless couple with a newborn baby steal some formula. A security walker nabs the family and takes them into the office. Matt pleads with security to let him pay for the formula. He said "I don't want CPS to take away their baby." And security lets them go. Matt calls me right after to tell me the story and said "I don't have much either but I just want to help them." And it's all because of you guys who reached out to this one family. This is the change that we have all started..."
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!