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Na Mea Pono: Oahu woman works tirelessly connecting homeless with resources to help them get off the streets

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Kara England | Na Mea Pono

Kara England spends hours on end meticulously sorting through donations, washing used clothes and collecting food, often from complete strangers. But the majority of her time's spent signing up people living on the streets for medical and welfare benefits, food stamps and financial assistance.

Kara England spends hours on end meticulously sorting through donations, washing used clothes and collecting food -- often from complete strangers.

But the majority of her time's spent signing up people living on the streets for medical and welfare benefits, food stamps and financial assistance.

"I don't see them as homeless. When I see someone lying on a bench like this, I see a person in crisis," England said. "And that's all I do I just introduce myself and I get to ask them what they need and they do open up."

As many outreach workers were scaling back services at the start of the pandemic, the former fitness trainer and massage therapist started "The Radical Hale" -- a nonprofit with a mission to show compassion, promote peace and inspire others.

Wheeling around carts full of food, clothing and shower kits she goes from park to park distributing supplies to anyone in need.

"We give our best because our clients have the least. Because when someone's down you should give them your best, not the leftovers. Because they deserve it, just like you and I," she said.

Without any training in homeless outreach, England learned all she could in helping the poor get medical insurance and housing and jumped head first into her new purpose in life.

She's even accompanied people to doctor's appointments and paid for a hotel stay for a homeless woman who just had surgery.

And she does it all for free.

"It's all about compassion," she added. "It's all about the fact that everybody deserves to be treated with dignity and respect."

England's assembled a group of volunteers, including Erick Jepsen, who was living in a tent at Magic Island and saw her pulling her carts through the parking lot.

He asked if she needed help and has been assisting her ever since.

"She has a heart of compassion," Jepsen said. "She is an angel on earth."

She's depleted her savings, enrolled in a mortgage forbearance program for a year so she didn't have to worry about the bills and collects bottles to pay for her startup operation.

Neighbors, churches and other organizations donate to the cause.

"You know for someone my age at 55 in the twilight years and having to reinvent myself during COVID, this is like the best journey. I love it. And people are so grateful," England said. "Just by giving them some water they're so grateful. By giving them a bar of soap they're blown away by the generosity and I'm like in my mind 'it's nothing,' but yet it's everything."

She does it all while striving to provide the best customer service to her clients who have become like family.

"Good friend," said Paul Barrionuebo. "She found us. She helped us out big time. It felt good. It felt like people do care."

Produced in partnership with the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

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