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BOH donates $10K to Hope House

 [l-r] Hope House board chairman Ta’afano Joe Tavale; BoH executive EJ Tyler Ozu; BoH executive Jon Murakami;  Monsignor Viane Etuale, Vicar General of the Diocese of Samoa Pago Pago; BoH executive Hobbs Lowson; and Hope House board member Larry Sanitoa, chairman of the Hope House 30th Anniversary Committee - pictured yesterday before BOH executives made its annual $10,000 donation to Hope House.  [photo: FS]
30th anniversary celebration already being planned

Preparations are underway to mark the 30th anniversary of Hope House, which accepted its first elderly resident three decades ago and is the only facility of its kind in American Samoa providing 24-7 care for elderly patients, the terminally ill, and children with severe disabilities.

Hope House has again reached out to the business community, which has for many years offered monetary contributions to fund, among other things, operations of the facility, as well as upgrades and repairs.

Yesterday morning during a brief ceremony at the Hope House compound, Bank of Hawaii senior executives - including two from Honolulu who arrived Wednesday night — made their annual contribution of $10,000 that was accepted by Monsignor Viane Etuale, Vicar General of the Diocese of Samoa Pago Pago on behalf of Bishop Peter Brown, leader of the Catholic Church in American Samoa.

Hope House board member, Larry Sanitoa, who is also the chairman of the 30th Anniversary Committee said, BoH is again making their “generous annual donation in support of Hope House, the only home care facility.”

The Honolulu-based financial institution “for the past 14 years, generously donated over $140,000 to support the difficult work of the management and staff that operate and maintain Hope House,” he said.

He added that this year Hope House will celebrate its 30th anniversary since the Nazareth House/Hope House was dedicated in 1987 and the Hope House board has started organizing the annual Hope House Golf Tournament fundraising event, set for Sept. 30.

“This annual fundraising event helps raise the needed funds to maintain Hope House,” he said, adding that the 30th anniversary celebration will include a Diocesan Mass on Sept. 24 in addition to a week full of activities.

Speaking on behalf of BoH was Hobbs Lowson, vice president of the West Hawaii-Kona Market. He was accompanied to the ceremony by  Jon Murakami, vice president and Branch and Community Banking Division Manager; and vice president of BoH American Samoa, EJ Tyler Ozu.

Lowson, who previously headed the local BoH operation, noted that this is Murakami’s first visit to the territory and “he is very impressed with what he sees here at Hope House.” Lowson acknowledged the Hope House staff for their contribution to the management of the facility.

“There truly is no better cause than the cause served here, taking care of American Samoa’s elderly, terminally ill, and the disabled. We are very proud of our 14-year history of support for this program,” he said, before officially announcing the $10,000 donation.

Monsignor Viane Etuale pointed out that in the last 14 years, BoH “has repeatedly and faithfully [made] financial contributions to Hope House. You have demonstrated your deep commitment to our work at Hope House, providing the services necessary for our residents. There is no full way to express our gratitude for your loyalty.”

Bishop Brown, the Hope House board, and the administration, as well as the whole Diocese of Samoa Pago Pago “are continually inspired by the dedication and generosity of donors like yourself, who answer the call and give again and again.”

“Your gift has already been used to pay for such things as utilities, food and supplies to name, but a few, for our patients. And you make it possible for our patients living here to lead happier and comfortable lives.

“Our staff includes social workers, nurses and doctors who volunteer their time to make sure at-risk seniors retire with dignity and grace,” he said and noted that Hope House is more than a nursing home. “We’re a place for seniors and those who are disabled to come to build a real life. You are an important part of the community that they built here.”

In closing he again expressed appreciation to BoH “for your compassion and support. We hope that you continue to partner with us in our commitment to provide care for our residents.”

Several residents of Hope House along with the management team of Beatrice Block were present during the ceremony. The facility has about 30 staff providing 24/7 care service. In addition, there are 16 teachers and staff working for the Hope House Day Care Center.

In his letter to the business community and friends, Bishop Peter Brown expressed his gratitude for the tremendous support to Hope House over the years, adding that “your ongoing contributions and donations has enabled Hope House to renovate and repair many infrastructure challenges and issues faced these past years".

"In the midst of the local economic uncertainty and possible budget cuts from the federal government, we are seeking and depending on the good will and generous contributions from our business partners and friends,” he said and shared that this year marks the 30th anniversary of Hope House.

Nazareth House/Hope House was dedicated in January 1987, when the facility was first started by the Sisters of Nazareth who accepted the invitation of the late Cardinal Pio Taofinu’u to open a home for the elderly on the grounds at the Diocese of Samoa Pago Pago, according to a Fact Sheet provided to reporters yesterday by the Hope House board.

 The Sisters came to American Samoa on June 22, 1984 and  funded the construction of Nazareth House and the first elderly resident was received on March 1, 1987. In response to requests from local residents, the Montessori pre-school was opened next to Hope House on April 10, 1987.  A subsequent request was made for the Sisters to provide respite care for children with severe disabilities.  The first child was received on August 12, 1987.

The Sisters of Nazareth worked tirelessly for some twenty-five years to materialize Cardinal PioTaofinu’u's vision for a home-care facility for the infirm, disabled, and elderly without regard for the denomination in faiths.  The Sisters of Nazareth left American Samoa in early 2009.

Hope House's current operations can be broken down into three components; Care for the Elderly, Care for the Children with severe disabilities, and Day Care Center for Children. The Diocese of Samoa Pago Pago, under the guidance Bishop Brown, oversees the operation of all three components.