HONOLULU (KHON2) — Today’s laulima family is a family of five, sometimes more, on the island of Kaua’i. It’s a grandmother caring for her grandchildren. Kathy Muneno spoke with her and has their story.
Denise looks way too young to be a grandmother, especially with 33 grandchildren! She’s in her two-bedroom one bath apartment that she shares with ‘four’ of her grandchildren, sometimes six.
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“I have seen these kids suffering and I was like…taking them all. If I had a bigger house I would take them all,” said Denise, the grandmother.
She has three granddaughters staying with her, ages 2, 8 and 14, and a 3-year-old grandson with special needs.
“They told me he would get a hard time talking but he’s talking now. He is talking sentences and everything,” said Denise.
Covid lockdowns were hard on all of them. Denise set up a learning area and homeschooled ‘with’ a very spotty internet connection.
She had to sell a bed, dining table and other furniture to make ends meet. But she’s been through much tougher times.
A car crash that injured her back, making her unable to work, and 20 years in an abusive marriage while raising nine children and working three jobs.
“When my kids saw me getting abused and he was reaching out to my kids trying to abuse my kids — that’s when I draw the line,” said Denise.
She took her children and they lived on the beach for nine years. She also ended up at a women’s shelter, filed for divorce and got help.
Most recently she connected with Keiki O Ka Aina’s He Lei Piko Home Visiting Program, which recommended her for the Laulima Giving Program.
“I was just in awe with what she’s been doing for the kids and what she’s been doing for the keiki in her care,” said Jeianna Iguchi, Keiki O Ka Aina Kaua’i Parent Educator.
She has two 14-year old granddaughters, one is with her full-time, the other often… one would love clothes and shoes. The other….basketball shoes and art supplies.
Her 8-year-old grandson, who comes over daily, wants to be a dirt bike rider, he would also love basketball shoes and shorts.
And guess what her 7-year-old granddaughter would love…basketball shoes too, she wants to be a professional player.
Pull-ups and shoes for the two youngest would be helpful…Her three-year-old grandson would love Tonka trucks.
Her two-year-old granddaughter would love barrettes, a little purse and other accessories, and a play kitchen.
For Denise, she says a special holiday meal for her grandchildren would be nice. Grocery gift cards and “gas” gift cards would be appreciated as one of her daughters and a neighbor drive them around. Denise didn’t ask but I suggested she needs a van.
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In the spirit of Laulima, our many hands working together, let’s help this family have a joyful holiday season. If you’d like to help, please click on the link above and laulima and look for code K2115.