Notes from the Field: “Pathways to Rebuilding Lives” in Hawaii

Notes from the Field: “Pathways to Rebuilding Lives” in Hawaii

Laura Aguirre, CEO of Hawaii First FCU, highlights how Hawaii First is maximizing impact by pairing financial counseling with Kilauea relief dollars


Laura Aguirre, CEO, Hawaii First Federal Credit Union

Things here on the Big Island in Hawaii have been quite eventful as many people have probably seen on the news. Every day is something new with the volcano. We all have been rattled by the large earthquakes, one of which had a 6.9 magnitude that was felt throughout much of the island. Our branch was closed once to ensure the safety of our staff and members, but thankfully no other events have impacted operations.

To our dismay, Kilauea erupted in a residential neighborhood and claimed nearly 700 homes in the path of destruction. Due to intermittent lava flows, sulfuric gas, and ash, thousands more were forced from their homes and have sought relief at temporary shelters throughout the island.

Within our field of membership alone, we determined that nearly 175 members live in the district that has been affected.

Fissure 8 at night (1)

Fissure 8 eruption at night.

The Hawaii First team is continuously checking in with them to see if they need our assistance.

Our Community Resource Centers are ready and available to assist anyone who is impacted. We also are going out to recently opened community shelters to offer assistance. The shelters are doing well for now and they will contact us when additional supplies are needed.

Thank goodness for the Aloha spirit that is alive and well here!

For those impacted by the volcano, we are working to distribute grants from $500 to $2,000 to help them get access to emergency funds in this time of crisis. We are also providing financial counseling and utilizing the Federation’s financial counseling platform, Pathways to Financial Empowerment, to maximize impact — helping  displaced individuals and families with managing these funds, long-term financial planning, and developing simple action plans to move forward. We thought, what better way to help our community on the path to rebuilding their lives and sense of well-being than by helping them strengthen their financial skills?

When we signed on for Pathways, we never guessed that it would become a vehicle to assist during a natural disaster. We are so blessed to have access to this program and to be able to share the training with our entire team. Everyday we hear Pathways being used and smile knowing another person is being given hope and feeling empowered.

How You Can Help: Support our Kilauea Relief Work

PRL Outreach Team at HUB

Our CRC team was in the field Friday, volunteering at a Pu’uhonua o Puna community center, also known as the “Hub,” which is 100% community driven.

It truly has been hard to watch as some of our community members have lost their homes to the lava. But with your support, Hawaii’s Big Island, which is a low income designated community, will be able to rebuild and recover from this natural disaster. The effects of this devastation will be long-term, as many residents will have to find the means to start from scratch. While immediate needs are being addressed by many great organizations, Hawaii First is in it for the long-haul.

Through your donation, Hawaii Island residents will see the true value and collaboration within the Community Development partners nationwide.

Mahalo to the Federation and its network of community development credit unions for their thoughts, prayers, and support at this time. Together, we are committed to rebuilding our community in Hawaii.

To contribute to the grant fund for impacted families:

Donations may be wired to:
Corporate America Credit Union
ABA Routing #262090120
4365 Crescent Road
Irondale, Al 35210
Further Credit to: Hawaii First FCU
Acct #321379753
Final Credit to: Hawaii First Community Ventures
Memo: PRL Donation

Checks may be mailed payable to:
Hawaii First Community Ventures
PO Box 446 Kamuela, HI 96743
Memo: PRL Donation



Laura Aguirre, CEO
Hawaii First Federal Credit Union

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