HONOLULU (KHON2) — Two weeks ago, we showed you how Hawaii’s Marcus Mariota is giving back through his Motiv8 Foundation.
This a woman considered to be the foundation’s brightest star.
Cindy Tokita is on the front line of homelessness.
For better or worse she couldn’t be more qualified for the job.
“Prior to being an actual employee I was living on the streets like most of the people that come here to take a shower,” said Cindy Tokita, Project Vision Employee. “It was very hard.”
That’s when she discovered the Hiehie pogram thanks to Marcus Mariota’s Motiv8 foundation.
A free and portable hygiene station she says saved her life.
“That’s when I started following them around,” said Tokita. “And it just so happens an employee asked me if I was interested in working. I said, ‘Yes I am.’ But I said, ‘I’m not sure if I’m very capable of doing what they were doing.’ That’s when I started following them around.”
But more than just follow Hiehie around town. She watched, and learned. Eventually helping where she could.
“Last year I would say about October, November, December around there they asked if I was definitely interested,” Tokita said. “I said yes I am.”
Cindy was hired, full time about eight months ago by the nonprofit organization Project Vision which runs the Hiehie program.
And it’s a job she landed by attending one of Marcus Mariota’s Motiv8 for An Honest 8 homeless workshop.
Rick Nakashima is the operator Ruby Tuesday, Gyukaku and Rainbow Drive-In restaurants in Hawaii.
He partners up with Big City Diner, Shirts of Aloha the Hiehie Project Vision group to provide hope and opportunity.
“So the four of us come together, and we hold a job were they can come in and get a shower, a haircut,” said restaurateur Rick Nakashima. “We feed them and hopefully land a job like Cindy did. It is a completely life-changing event.”
“She was homeless and she needed cataract surgery,” said Darrah Kauhane-Floerke, Project Vision. “So we were able to help her with both of those things. She gained the confidence through utilizing our services, and now she’s a full-time employee at Project Vision. She does a great job of managing our Hiehie program.”
On this day she met the man who made it possible.
“Cindy is doing an amazing job,” said Nakashima. “We tried to hire her. Other companies Big City Diner here, Hyatt was here. They all wanted her. She chose to work for Project Vision.”
“We’re so excited to have Cindy meet Marcus today because she’s really our success story that we were trying to do through this partnership with the motivate foundation,” said Kauhane-Floerke.
There is still much Cindy needs to learn. But each and every day she’s going from student to teacher.
One thing cindy does not need to learn is how to connect with the people she’s now helping.
“There’s usually a lot of stigma around those experiencing homelessness,” said Kauhane-Floerke. “So she helps us to break down those barriers and really understand how we can provide the best services.”
“What makes me happy that I’m able to get back to the community,” said Tokita. “I know how other people live because I used to be on the streets myself. That’s great that I’m able to help them out yet put myself in your situation.”
For more information, visit the motiv8foundation.com