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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, December 17, 2009

Single mother of 4 faces tough future

By Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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With every passing day, Maelynn Mook faces the future with varying degrees of trepidation, courage and hope. This year, at age 42, the full-time teacher's aide became a single mother of four.

"She was in an abusive relationship that was unhealthy for her children, and she got out," said Charnay Kalama, Maelynn's case worker with the nonprofit service agency Holomua na Ohana.

"That left her homeless. She had nowhere to go because with all of her kids, her family didn't have enough space for her," Kalama said.

Mook initially sought refuge at an O'ahu domestic violence shelter. Later, she and her three daughters, ages 3, 8 and 15, and son, 18, moved into a homeless transitional shelter, where they remain.

Throughout the ordeal, Mook's positive outlook on life has driven her conviction that in the end everything will work out. But that steadfast faith has been challenged by the harsh struggle of living exclusively off a teacher assistant's salary.

That confidence has been further shaken by dealing with extra living expenses at the same time her income has been slashed because of recent work furloughs.

By day, she works at the school. At night, she cares for her children. That leaves little time to search for, let alone commit to, a second job.

Yet, she and the children do not despair. For Mook, Christmas represents promise for them all, even in the midst of hard times. It might even be a cause for joy.

"This is going to be my first actual family Christmas with just me and my kids," she said. "And I just want it to be extra special, and a good start for better years to come."