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Shelter for domestic violence victims opens on Lanai

Women Helping Women held a grand opening Feb. 24 for its first domestic violence shelter on Lanai. Pulama Lana‘i, which manages the Lanai assets of Larry Ellison, who owns most of the island, provided a home on Fraser Avenue for the nonprofit organization. • Women Helping Women photo

Even on the small island of Lanai, women need domestic violence intervention services and a place to stay if they are abused.

“Whether you are looking at an inner city or small town . . . one in four women will be abused by her intimate partner in her lifetime. It’s true here (on Maui), it’s true on Lanai, it’s true on Oahu,” said Stacey Moniz, executive director of Women Helping Women, a nonprofit organization that helps women, children and men who are abused.

On Feb. 24, Women Helping Women celebrated the grand opening of Lanai’s first domestic violence shelter and gave thanks to the community for its support.

Previously, some Lanai domestic violence victims had to come to Maui to stay in a shelter because Lanai had no permanent shelter, Moniz said.

“Now, they can stay on island, maintain their lives, keep their kids in school, keep their kids and stay safe,” she said.

Pulama Lana’i, which manages island holdings for Larry Ellison, who owns most of the island, turned over a home on Fraser Avenue in Lanai City to Women Helping Women in November.

The agency received its first client in January, Moniz said.

Unlike its Maui shelter, whose location is undisclosed to protect its clients, the location of Women Helping Women’s Lanai shelter is public — and across the street from the Lanai Police Station. It would have been impossible to keep its location secret in the small town, and the community has come together to keep an eye on the place, said Moniz.

Women Helping Women has had a presence on Lanai since 1997. Moniz had been flying to the island weekly from Maui to help with temporary restraining orders and to hold support groups and other sessions. It was her dream and goal to establish a shelter there.

Moniz thanked the late Phyllis McOmber and Jacqueline “Jackie” Woolsey, both Lanai residents, for being the “movers and shakers” behind women’s and health issues on Lanai. The two women established a women’s health center that eventually led to the Lanai Community Health Center.

In honor of the women, the shelter is called “Jacq and Phyl’s Place.”

Women Helping Women currently has 10 clients in its program on Lanai, though not all stay at the shelter, Moniz said. The two-bedroom home can accommodate a dozen people with sleeping areas in the living room. It has not been full yet.

The Lanai office currently has one full-time and one part-time staff member, though the new shelter, which will be staffed 24-hours a day, is looking to hire five more people, Moniz said.

The organization received $265,000 from the state for startup costs, and the shelter will need $230,000 annually to operate, Moniz added, noting she was pretty confident funding is available for upcoming years.

Although funds can come from government sources, Moniz said there is always a need for general donations, such as gas vouchers, monetary help with car repairs and diapers.

A Rotary Club on Oahu and one on Lanai helped get the shelter ready, including painting. One Oahu club member was a family member of C.S. Wo & Sons, the furniture company, and the shelter received furniture donations as well as a discount from the company to fill the Lanai shelter.

Young Brothers donated the shipping, and Pulama Lana’i delivered the furniture from the harbor. The company also donated tents, flower arrangements and tablecloths for the grand opening event.

Before there was a shelter, Pulama Lana’i would loan homes in Lanai City to battered women, Moniz said.

Women Helping Women will be honoring Pulama Lana’i with an Angel Team award at its 40th anniversary event Sunday, “A Jedi Night, 40 years of The Force Within,” at the King Kamehameha Golf Club in Waikapu.

An individual Angel Award will go to Kimberly Miyazawa Frank, who assisted the organization in obtaining the shelter. She is the former senior vice president of human resources & community development for Pulama Lana’i.

Tickets still are available for Sunday’s event, which runs from 5 to 8:30 p.m., with dinner, entertainment and live and silent auctions. For more information, go to womenhelpingwomenmaui.com.

Women Helping Women’s 24-hour hot line on Maui is 579-9581. On Lanai, it is (808) 565-6700.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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