Photo: Left to right - Danny Kaleikini, Dell Manini, Mayor Hannemann, Jessica Lani Rich, and Rep. Brower.
Imagine traveling far from home and being struck by vandalism, robbery, illness, or even the death of a loved one. The Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii (VASH) was formed 10 years ago and helps about 2000 traumatized visitors a year. They help by providing hotel rooms, contacting relatives, guidance with hospital care, government assistance, funeral arrangements, and more. There is even a bereavement team in place. "Aloha" is more than a word or a concept in these situations.
Last Friday, Rep. Tom Brower, who represents Waikiki, presented a certificate of appreciation from the Hawaii State Legislature to VASH and Jessica Lani Rich, President and Executive Director, during a luncheon to honor the organization on its 10th anniversary. Rich empathizes with visitors who suffer a crisis while traveling. Thirty years ago, her father was honeymooning in El Salvador and saw his wife struggling in the water. While assisting her to shore, he suffered a heart attack and died. Today, the organization is run with the help of two full-time and eight part-time staffers, and 90 volunteers. If you'd like to be trained as a volunteer, contact www.visitoralohasocietyofhawaii.org or call 926-8274.