Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, November 24, 2006

Tired of concrete floor, family hopes for beds

Help our neighbors in need

By Mary Vorsino
Advertiser Staff Writer


Send checks, payable to "The Advertiser Christmas Fund," to Helping Hands Hawai'i, P.O. Box 17780, Honolulu, HI 96817. Helping Hands will accept credit card donations by telephone at 440-3831. Monetary donations may be dropped off at The Advertiser's information desk or any First Hawaiian Bank branch.

Material goods can be taken to the Community Clearinghouse at 2100 N. Nimitz Highway, near Pu'uhale Road. For more information, call 440-3804. Monetary donations help operate Community Clearinghouse programs year-round.

spacer spacer

For Christmas, the Retonongs aren't asking for toys or gadgets.

What they want most is beds.

"We have no mattresses," said Percy Retonong, from her Kuhio Park Terrace apartment. "We're just lying on the floor."

The family of nine moved here from Micronesia last year, searching for a better life. They were shocked at how expensive life in Hawai'i could be and soon found themselves homeless.

For months, they stayed at the Institute for Human Services shelter in Kalihi. In October, they were finally able to secure a spot in public housing, but moved in without furniture or household goods. In addition to beds, Retonong said, they'd like a pot.

"A big family pot," Retonong said.

Retonong and her husband, Skinnory, are in their 50s. Their oldest child is 17 and their youngest is 2 years old. The couple also take care of their 1-year-old grandson, who recently required hospitalization for a kidney infection.

Skinnory Retonong is a security guard at Kmart, pulling in just enough to cover the family's rent and utilities. Many months, the money doesn't stretch enough to pay for food and diapers.

With money so tight, buying beds has been out of the question.

But sleeping on the cold concrete floor in their apartment is taking its toll on Skinnory Retonong, who often works 10- to 12-hour shifts for the extra money.

"My husband works hard," Percy Retonong said. "His body is always sore, and he is very tired."

Though the family would be happy with beds and a big pot, Retonong also said they often wish for a dining chairs and a table so they can eat together. For Christmas, the kids in the house would love a few books. Diapers and wipes would also be welcomed.

Reach Mary Vorsino at mvorsino@honoluluadvertiser.com.