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Aging Well: The Assistance League of Hawaii celebrates 50 years of helping Hawaii's families

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Aging Well: The Assistance League of Hawaii celebrates 50 years of helping Hawaii's families

A local nonprofit that focuses on helping women and children turns 50 this year. The retirees who run it say their volunteer work is what keeps them Aging Well. 

Inside this unassuming little store on Young Street are many treasures waiting to find a new home. This is the Assistance League of Hawaii's thrift store.

79-year-old Sharon Erhorn is a 12-year volunteer. "We have all kinds of things that happen here in a day. Every day is different. I just love being here," she tells me. 

Many of its 85 members are retirees, like Erhorn, a retired Kalaheo High School teacher. She likes what she does, and she loves knowing it's for a good cause. Thrift shop sales pay for community programs to help families.

The Assistance League proudly says it's been called "the Neiman Marcus of thrift shops." For instance, it has a working relationship with some auction houses, so it gets fancy items that haven't sold at estate sales.

President Mary Monohon says the store earns about $25,000 dollars a month; after paying overhead, the rest of the money funds community outreach. "Our major program is called Operation School Bell and we rely on school counselors to indicate which students are in need of clothing," she says. 

The League, in partnership with WalMart and Target, buys up to $75 of school clothing for 150 public school kids. Monohon says it's heartwarming. "We get little kids who want to keep the shoebox because they've never had a shoebox before because they usually just get slippers. The part that I like the best is - the families appreciate it, but the community, the people wandering around the store, see us and are like, 'Who are you people?'"

The League also helps domestic violence survivors, foster children, and new mothers.

Erhorn says volunteer work is a wonderful salve for the soul. "Staying active and doing something worthwhile you feel good about, then going home and feel good about. That's the important thing," she reflects. 

Monohon, a retired librarian, agrees. "Most of us have had other lives and other talents. We're retired, and it gives us a place to go to use those talents and be with other people." 

These women say their volunteer work helps them transform lives- including their own.

The Assistance League of Hawaii is always looking for volunteers or donations (cash or items). To find out how you can help, go to its website at https://www.assistanceleague.org/locator/ or contact the Hawaii chapter at:

1505 Young Street

Honolulu, HI, 96826

(808) 946-1505

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