KidsInNeed long on goals, short on cash
By James Gonser
Advertiser Central Bureau
WAHIAWA Fred Rames wants to help some of Hawai'i's poorest students lift themselves out of poverty by giving them an educational boost with a free tutoring program based in Wahiawa and Wai'anae.
Rames is a longtime soccer coach and a substitute teacher at Ka'ala Elementary School in Wahiawa.
While teaching at Ka'ala, he said, he learned that more than 75 percent of the students live at or below the federal poverty level and receive subsidized meals at school. Drug trafficking and gang activity permeate some areas of Wahiawa, and some children have little parental support, Rames said.
Many students on the Wai'anae Coast are in the same predicament, he said.
"These kids are not that easy to work with," Rames said. "They are low motivation. You've got to find ways to motivate them because they don't get it around the home."
Rames tutors five boys out of his Wahiawa home and uses their desire to play on a soccer team as a way to get them to study; many of them can't afford the league fees of about $50 a year.
"Once I get them into soccer, that is the draw. I say, 'Fine. You can play without paying, but you've got to do the homework first,' " Rames said.
"You have to have leverage. Soccer is the leverage to get them to do their homework."
What: A free tutoring program for poor children in Wahiawa and Wai'anae.
For more information: Call Fred Rames at 621-7731 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
Community Services is also partnering with Wai'anae-based Koa Iki to provide similar tutoring services on the Leeward Coast.
Rames estimates he will need $285,000 annually to run the program, and he has cut back on soccer coaching to find the time required for writing applications for government grants and soliciting money from private corporations.
"We are dying for help right now," Rames said. "Volunteers are nice, but from a commitment standpoint, I would rather pay tutors and get them in there on a regular basis.
"The more funds we can get, the bigger we can go, hopefully."
Shelly Hung, a fourth-grade teacher at Ka'ala, said any tutoring program in the economically depressed area would be a great help.
"I have a few students who do not complete their homework on a regular basis and they would be the ones that would benefit the most," Hung said. "Mr. Rames has taken a personal interest in helping our students here at Ka'ala. He has invested much of his time in taking care of students after school, assisting them with their homework and even purchasing their school supplies for them."
Rames said Ka'ala does have an after-school tutoring program, but students who ride the bus to school would not have a ride home if they stayed late for the program.
"We will move a step at a time and if we can't do the full-blown thing, we will buy a few vans to drive them home after tutoring," Rames said.
KidsInNeed students will be picked up after school and taken to the tutoring site, where they'll devote two hours a day to homework and computer programs. Rames' plan is to have about 20 students per day, four days a week, or 40 students two days a week in the program.
"Since most of the children with whom we will be working have low self-esteem, KidsInNeed will be marketed to them as a program where they are lucky to be selected and are a part of a unique group, avoiding the word special because of its use with special education, which has a negative connotation for most kids," Rames said.