* For purposes of this report, Pacific Islander is a broad classification that encompasses over 1,000 of the islands and countries of Oceania, including but not limited to the Federal States of Micronesia (FSM)(Pohnpei, Kosrae, Chuuk and Yap), the Republic of Palau, the Independent State of Samoa and American Samoa, the Kingdom of Tonga, the Republic of Fiji, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan, Tinian, Rota), the Territory of Guam, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Vanuatu, and the French Polynesias (Society Islands including Tahiti, Windward Islands, Leeward Islands, Tuamotu Archipelago; Gambier Islands, Marquesas Islands and the Austral Islands).
For the first quarter of FY20, CAP Advocates were active in face-to-face outreach to both individuals and groups of people with disabilities, including unserved and underserved populations. The experience and talent of HDRC’s staff played a major role in outreach efforts.
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” certainly applies to dealing with the challenges presented by the Coronavirus pandemic. HDRC’s staff listened and learned as our Hawaii community coordinated and collaborated together. There were numerous events that took place utilizing social media. As CAP staff teleworked from home, our clients and the community were given the opportunity to see what our living rooms and kitchens looked like as meetings were conducted.
Plans for neighbor island travel were halted by COVID-19, but social media gave the opportunity for some of our staff to outreach with providers and agencies that would not have otherwise occurred. Rapport within the community seemed to result in lasting relationships with other similarly situated organizations and individuals. Agreements were made with State agencies provide HDRC brochures to all qualified clients at orientation.
Outreach Advocates Reinalyn Terrado and JanisMaria Chang continued their outreach efforts to beneficiaries in the underserved Pacific Islander, Filipino, Korean and homeless communities. There were agency-wide efforts to expand services to military veterans.
People with deafness and hard of hearing were identified as another un- and underserved segment of our community. Advocate Carol Young is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) and used her professional and personal contacts within the deaf community to outreach and promote our services. People in the deaf community contact Ms. Young either because they know her or someone else in the deaf community tells them to call her at HDRC for assistance. What makes them comfortable is that Ms. Young communicates in ASL and understands deaf culture. Clients can call on the videophone and communicate directly instead of using an interpreter. This creates a more 'deaf friendly' atmosphere for the deaf person.
The Coronavirus pandemic, and the remote working that resulted, created an obstacle to direct communication with deaf callers. Ms. Young could communicate directly on the HDRC videophone, but not remotely. She reached out to contacts in the deaf community for suggestions. She was able to receive permission to establish the videophone app on her personal cell phone (usually only for deaf people). With the app, communication with deaf or hard of hearing individuals is direct either remotely or in the office. This had a huge impact on maintaining communication with deaf individuals.
For the last eight months of FY20, many in-person outreach and education and training activities were curtailed by the Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent government orders to lockdown, quarantine, work-from-home and restrict air travel. The large-scale social gatherings and events that traditionally served as venues for outreach and education and training were shut down. HDRC advocates and outreach staff were resourceful in conducting socially-distant case work and outreach.
Of the outreaches conducted during FY20, the Kuhio Park Health & Wellness Fair, the Steadfast Housing Managers’ Conference, and the Hawaii Afterschool Summit had the most attendees, the most diverse attendees, and the widest reach, as far as the underserved and un-served communities are concerned.
The Kuhio Park Health & Wellness Fair allowed HDRC Advocates and Outreach Advocates to engage with 200 people in and out of public housing. We fielded inquiries from the homeless, Pacific Islanders (especially from the Federal States of Micronesia), and Filipinos. The five-hour event brought cases and inquiries on HDRC’s overall mission and the role of CAP.
At the Steadfast Housing Managers’ Conference, HDRC Advocates and Outreach Advocates did a presentation and a question-and-answer segment before 60 attendees. These housing managers are responsible for the daily operations of facilities that serve people with severe and persistent mental health issues across the state. A good number of their questions were particular to neglect: what situation merits a complaint or write-up, and when can HDRC be asked for intervention or help, among others. After passing out brochures, a contact sheet was passed around for those housing managers who wanted to talk outside the conference, since the staff’s allotted time was limited. The Advocates then contacted each person who signed up, which led to presentations in those managers’ respective residential facilities and invitations to speak before support group meetings.
During the two-day Hawaii Afterschool Summit, CAP Advocates and Outreach Advocates participated in presentation and breakout sessions targeted towards Filipinos, Pacific Islanders, and military communities across the State. The Summit was attended by teachers and school administrators from the Hawaii Department of Education, A+ personnel, parents, and people in nonprofit agencies that serve those segments of the state population. CAP brochures were placed on a communal resource table while staff networked, answered questions, exchanged business cards, and took note of those who wanted to be contacted post-summit. Around 200 people attended the event.
The HDRC staff also visited Mental Health Kokua, Koolau Clubhouse, The Arc in Hawaii, Assistive Technology Resource Centers of Hawaii (ATRC), Emergency Management Professionals of Hawaii (EMP-HI), Queen’s Medical Center (Pediatric Trauma Talk, and Rehabilitation and Counseling Services Dept.), United Self-Help, University of Hawaii Manoa, Farrington High School, and Leadership in Disabilities and Achievements of Hawaii (LDAH), to name a few.
Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, Outreach Advocates took part in grassroots efforts to proactively and strategically market to state legislators, including the Speaker of the House, City Council members, and Neighborhood Board members. Neighborhood Board meetings were attended by community members, first responders, legislators, councilmembers, and stakeholders. HDRC Outreach Advocates were invited to present at two additional Neighborhood Board meetings that were scheduled to broadcast via ‘Olelo, the local public television channel. When the COVID-19 lockdowns occurred in March 2020, Neighborhood Board meetings were shifted to a virtual medium.
In this past fiscal year, Outreach Advocates also reached out to first responders (e.g., fire departments, service providers). However, planned activities including hospital site visits were not possible due to Coronavirus precautions. While some of the scheduled outreaches and planned events and collaborations were cancelled in the last eight months of FY20 due to the Coronavirus pandemic, HDRC was able to conduct a substantial amount of outreaches to carry out its goals and plans for FY20. Other means aside from face-to-face interaction were explored, including video and telephone conferencing, e-mail, online chat, public service announcements, and social media.
Since the COVID-19 lockdown and quarantine periods, outreach activities were limited to attending virtual workshops and conferences. Most of these workshops were facilitated via Zoom. Zoom-hosted platforms allot one speaker at a time, which limits opportunities to virtually network with a wider audience. Opportunities to share programs and services by HDRC were limited to introduction and Q&A sessions. We observe that some hosting agencies are shifting toward platforms that allow virtual networking opportunities with service providers and vendors. The current COVID-19 pandemic has tested HDRC’s creativity and capability to broaden the manner by which it conducts outreach. Although staffing tables at congregate events is an established method of outreach, CAP is exploring all other means of communication in a socially-distant environment.
In HDRC’s efforts to continually serve our un- and underserved populations, HDRC staff worked diligently toward opportunities to market and outreach to potential clients by sharing information, programs, and services during the intake process and through personally developed referrals. Whenever the public inquires: “Tell me about your agency”; “What kind of help do you have for a disabled person?”; or “What services do you offer?” our staff seizes such opportunities to share HDRC’s services and activities with prospective applicants and potential clients. CAP also directs prospective applicants, interested parties, and external stakeholders to the HDRC website to access and download informational materials and brochures.
FY20 Outreaches and Diversification Activities also included:
Air Force Wounded Warrior Project - Veterans (150)
Aloha United Way 211 - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Veterans
American Association of University Women (AAUW), Honolulu Branch (50)
Assistive Technology Resource Center of Hawaii - Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Korean
Chaminade University (twice) - Pacific Islander, Filipino, Korean, Hispanic, Veterans
Developmental Disabilities Council - Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Korean
DD Day-Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder - Pacific Islander, Filipino (150)
Diamond Head Neighborhood Board - Pacific Islander, Filipino, Korean, Veterans (100)
Goodwill Hawaii - Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino
Grassroots Efforts - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Veterans
Hawaii Pacific Institute - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Veterans
Hawaii Pacific University - Pacific Islander, Filipino, Korean, Veterans
Hawaii State Public Library - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Korean, Veterans
Hawaii State Legislature Opening Day – elected officials, agency heads, general public and media (300+)
Hawaii State Library-Aina Haina - Homeless, Pacific Islander, Filipino, Korean, Veterans
Hawaii State Library-Hawaii Kai - Homeless, Pacific Islander, Filipino, Korean, Veterans
Hawaii State Library-Kaimuki - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Korean, Veterans
Hawaii State Library-Manoa - Pacific Islander, Filipino, Korean, Veterans
Hawaii State Library-McCully - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Korean, Veterans
Hawaii Youth Services Network-Annual Membership & Networking - Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino
Honolulu Community College - Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Korean, Veterans
HFD - Downtown Fire Station - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Veterans
HFD - Kaimuki Fire Station - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Korean, Veterans
HFD - Manoa Fire Station - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Korean, Veterans
HFD - Makiki Fire Station - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Korean, Veterans
HFD - McCully-Moiliili Fire Station - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Korean, Veterans
HFD - Pearl City Fire Station - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Veterans
HFD - Waiau Fire Station - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Veterans
IHS Community Forum on Homeless Solutions – Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Veterans
Kalihi Palama Neighborhood Board – Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Korean, Veterans (50)
Kalihi Valley Neighborhood Board - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Korean, Veterans (35)
Kapiolani Community College - Pacific Islander, Filipino, Korean, Veterans, Deaf/Blind
Kuhio Park Health & Wellness Fair (Annual 10,000 Steps Health & Wellness Fair) - Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, low-income (150)
Kupuna Project - Seniors, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Homeless
Lanakila Meals on Wheels - Seniors, Homeless, Filipino, Korean, Deaf/Blind
Manoa Neighborhood Board - Pacific Islander, Veterans (50)
National Association for Mental Illness (NAMI) Hawaii State Conference 2020
Newman Center - Homeless, Filipino, Korean, Veterans (100)
Office of Economic Development (OED) Community Workshops
Fall 2020 Virtual ʻOhana Engagement Conference
‘Olelo Hawaii – Public Television serving entire state
Our Lady of Good Counsel - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Veterans
Pearl City Shopping Center - Homeless, Pacific Islander, Filipino, Veterans
Rep. Takashi Ohno - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Veterans
Rep. Kalani English - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Veterans
Rep. Linda Ichiyama - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Veterans
Rep. Scott Saiki - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Veterans
Rep. Romy Cachola - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Veterans
Saint John the Baptist – Pacific Islander esp. Chuukese, Filipino, Hispanic, Korean, Homeless
Saints Peter & Paul - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Veterans
Sen. Kanoha - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Veterans
Sen. John Mizuno - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Veterans
Sen. Sharon Moriwaki - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Veterans
Sen. Glenn Wakai - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Veterans
Small Business Administration - Pacific Islander, Filipino, Veterans
Statewide Homeless Project - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Veterans, Deaf/Blind
2020 Statewide Homeless Veterans Virtual Conference – Homeless, Veterans
Straub/Hawaii Pacific Health – Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Korean, Veterans, Deaf/Blind
U.S. Census Event - Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino, Veterans, Homeless (100)
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Office of Insular Affairs - FSM
U.S. Sen. Ed Case-Talk Story – Pacific Islander, Filipino, Homeless, Veterans (75)
Veterans Benefits Presentation - hosted by former Sen. Suzanne Chun-Oakland at Lanakila Catholic Charities Hawaii – Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Veterans
Virtual Advocacy in Epilepsy Event-Hawaii
We Are Oceania – Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM, Filipino
YWCA Fernhurst - Homeless, Pacific Islander esp. FSM
Operational Changes In Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
HDRC began monitoring the Coronavirus outbreak since its first detection in Asia. Our concern was especially high because many of HDRC’s clients and accomplished staff are in the at-risk category for contracting COVID-19, i.e. over 60 years of age and with preexisting conditions like asthma or diabetes.
HDRC managers began evaluating the potential for moving daily operations to remote locations or telecommuting in January 2020. An initial challenge was technological – we determined that we had very limited software and bandwidth to support the number of portals we wished to create.
HDRC’s first telework policy was issued on March 19, 2020 to encourage staff members to work from home. Procedures and policies were established to continue our advocacy in an increasingly no-contact and socially-distant environment. Some employees immediately commenced telework. Signs, voicemail recordings and online posts advised clients/applicants that HDRC was continuing operations outside of its office and that intake applications were being accepted via telephone, HDRC’s website, and our facebook pages.
On March 31, 2020, a worker in HDRC’s office building tested positive for COVID-19. All of our safety measures and precautions suddenly became very real. On August 30, 2020, during a telework period, a HDRC staff member contracted COVID-19 from her spouse. HDRC’s office was completely locked down for the first two weeks of September to clean and sanitize the entire office. Our colleague and her spouse made a full recovery.
HDRC re-opened to the public on June 1, 2020. We purchased Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), thermometers, plexi-shields for our Intake desk, and replaced our upholstered Entry Area furniture with easy to sanitize hard surfaced furniture. Sanitizing wipes and fluids were placed in the Entry Area, Copy Room, Staff Kitchen, and Conference Room. Face coverings were required to be worn at all times by staff and visitors. Temperature checks were taken. The entire staff completes weekly health surveys. Walk-in applicants were asked to make appointments or use the telephone, HDRC’s webpage or Facebook to apply for services. Staff members participated in meetings via telephone or video conferencing. By the end of July 2020, however, the daily number of positive Coronavirus cases exceeded all other previous highs. As COVID numbers steadily increased to triple digits, our offices once again closed to the public on August 17, 2020. Since that time, employees have been granted the option to continue telework from home. It is important to note that despite the office closures, HDRC remains fully functional and continues to conduct CAP casework and accept new cases via telephonic and online means.
HDRC’s Technological Upgrades In Response to COVID-19
HDRC was compelled to make systemic changes to its 20-year old client database and upgrade its entire network system to enhance the connectivity and inter-operability among staff working from home. The upgraded network also elevates our remote access security and the safeguarding of Personally Identifiable Information (PII). We improved system bandwidth to handle multiple remote access users and increase connection speed.
HDRC’s entire staff were mobilized and trained for remote access to our network. Some employees started off using their own personal computers to telework. We soon discovered that even a 4-year old computer is obsolete by today’s technological standards. HDRC purchased laptops for all front-line staff members, including Advocates, Legal Staff and Managers. We plan to upgrade our server and all of our desktop CPUs. Our internet connection was scheduled to be upgraded to the widest possible bandwidth on October 31, 2020.
We now subscribe to videoconferencing services like Zoom and teleconferencing services like IDT Connect. With the widespread use of Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams, and Google Groups for videoconferencing, HDRC installed cameras and microphones for all desktops and trained our staff to host meetings in this manner.
HDRC also extended its telephonic technology. If an employee had a home network, they were provided with VOIP handsets that acted as extensions of our office telephone system; and if not feasible, we provided staff members with burner phones.
CAP Outreaches to Underserved Communities
CAP Outreach Advocates continued their outreach efforts to people with disabilities in the underserved Micronesian, Filipino, Korean and homeless communities. There were agency-wide efforts to expand services to military veterans. People with deafness and hard of hearing were targeted as another un- and underserved segment of our community that could benefit from CAP services. Advocate Carol Young is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) and used her professional and personal contacts within the deaf community to promote HDRC.
For the last seven months FY20, many in-person outreach and casework activities were curtailed by the Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent government orders to lockdown, quarantine, work-from-home and restrict air travel. The large-scale social gatherings and events that traditionally served as venues for outreach and education were shut down. CAP advocates and outreach staff were resourceful in conducting socially-distant casework and outreach via video and telephone.
For the first time in 20 years, HDRC hired a media/public relations firm to conduct a coordinated campaign for its P&A Voter Assistance (PAVA) program. The campaign involved a coordinated, timed effort across all media – newspapers, radio, public television, public service announcements and internet/social media. Based on the success of the professionally-coordinated PAVA media campaign, HDRC is considering similar campaigns to boost our own CAP outreach and education efforts.
HDRC staff members are most grateful that we have maintained operations such as the CAP program during this period and that everyone has remained employed with no layoffs or cuts in salary. We are all aware that we are learning new behaviors and must adjust as needed because the only constant during the pandemic is change. We remind ourselves that our mission is to overcome obstacles! Regardless of our new circumstances, each and every HDRC staff member remains committed to the mission of the Client Assistance Program.