Built with Aloha

Honolulu Habitat for Humanity shares their gift of  'aloha'

The pristine beaches and optimal summer-like, year-round weather may be a couple of reasons why folks from abroad gravitate towards living in Hawai'i, but it's definitely not the number one factor. Locals and visitors alike can agree, that life on the islands is filled with the "aloha spirit," and no matter who you are, or where you come from, your surrounding community will be behind you every step of the way.

The only downside about life here on the islands is that the price for paradise is expensive. And as Hawai'i tops out every year as the number one most expensive state to live in the U.S., more and more families are being ostracized to becoming homeowners. 

Jim Murphy, Honolulu Habitat for Humanity's executive director, says it's one dream to want to live in Hawai'i but it's another to want to do so at an affordable price.

Courtesy Honolulu Habitat for Humanity

"(Honolulu Habitat for Humanity) is addressing what is arguably the greatest need here in Hawai'i and that is affordable housing," Murphy says. Unlike other Habitat for Humanity organizations on the mainland, Hawai'i's major challenge in providing affordable housing – in general – is due to the lack of livable land space. With little land available, Murphy says, the astronomical pricing of land, condominiums, townhouses, and single-family homes sky rocket to the hefty price tag of paying $400-$500 per square foot.

"It's not at all feasible for our families here on O'ahu," Murphy continues. "Our goal here at Habitat is to be able to provide a decent place to live to those who are in great need, and bring the community together while doing it."

This is when the "aloha spirit" is especially recognized, Murphy says, as he recalls many Saturday mornings when neighbors would come over to help the Honolulu Habitat for Humanity crew while they're working on a house, just because they heard the sound "hammering."

"Prior to us building, we go out into the community to let them know that we're building a home for one of their neighbors and that volunteers are welcome," Murphy says. "But most of the volunteers is by word of mouth because it's 'Aunty Darlene's house' so people come to help pitch in ... whether it be a church organization bringing lunches for everyone or a local business helping out on one of their work days, it's just nice to see everyone come over to help."

Courtesy Honolulu Habitat for Humanity

A great way for the public to help or learn more about Honolulu Habitat for Humanity is their first benefit fundraiser: Build Aloha. The event will be held on Saturday, June 10, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., at Kō Hana Rum in Kunia. There will be a private tour of the distillery, food stations from acclaimed restaurants such as The Pig and the Lady and the Fish House at Ko Olina, special Kō Hana Rum cocktails, live music, and a silent auction. All the proceeds will benefit the Honolulu Habitat for Humanity organization.

Murphy says the "Build Aloha" title for their fundraiser is a perfect name for the occasion as the Honolulu Habitat for Humanity strives to do more than just build houses.

"We hope to bring communities together," Murphy says. "We have all the resources now to help more families, we're just so grateful for the public's support."

For more information about the Build Aloha event or Honolulu Habitat for Humanity, go to www.honoluluhabitat.org.

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