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HUGS, love and support for families during trying times

On this Valentine's day a local non profit shared some aloha with a local family dealing with an ill son.

It was just dinner at Zippy's but for the Colunga family, it was an extra helping of love and support.

It's the look only a mother would give to her child.

The Colunga family of Kaneohe enjoyed a special family night out thanks to HUGS hhich stands for Help Understanding and Group Support

HUGS is a nonprofit dedicated to helping families with children facing life-threatening illnesses.

"These families go through challenges that causes great anxiety and stress and financial hardship. And we have a number of programs that help each member of the family who's affected by this because every member of the families affected by the illness," said Joan Naguwa, executive director of HUGS.

HUGS learned about the family through Kapiolani Medical Center, where their 3-year-old son was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was just 3-months old.

Since then he's gone through a series of tests, dietary trials and medication trials.

"So we invited them to be part of our HUGS ohana so they could meet other families we have the same diagnosis. If not just other families who kind of know what that's like that stress the multiple treatments all of that and just to have that source of natural support," said Bonny Colunga.

It turns out Bonny Is all too familiar with hugs because she herself is a berievement social worker, and has worked with some HUGS families over the years.

"I've always known about them on a professional level however it wasn't until just about five months ago we became involved on a personal level and that's how I became familiar with HUGS," said Colunga.

She says from something as simple as a follow up phone call to organizing a moms night out, hugs changes lives.

"It really helps us to fell validated because his moms of children with special needs reface different barriers and challenges that are very unique to us to find the community and the support that understands that. HUGS facilitates that understands the value of that," said Colunga.

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