Pacific Cancer Foundation Sets Up Moloka‘i General Food Pantry
The Pacific Cancer Foundation joined forces with Molokaʻi General Hospital to set up a food pantry and bring a message of hope to Molokaʻi cancer patients and survivors.
“One of the markets on Molokaʻi had to close for a couple of weeks and we were worried about shortages. We wanted to be sure our cancer survivors had what they needed to get by,” said Nancy La Joy, Executive Director at the Pacific Cancer Foundation.
“There are few words that carry as much emotional weight as cancer. We all have been touched by this dreaded disease in some form – whether personally or through family members and friends – COVID-19 makes fighting a cancer fight even tougher,” said La Joy.
Patient Navigator Avette Ponce from Molokaʻi General Hospital joined in developing the concept. For over a decade, the two organizations have been working together to support the nutritional needs of patients. As part of this effort, PCF typically sends Molokaʻi General close to 100 cases of Ensure each year.
As an added service, during normal operations, Sally Pechstein, a Registered Dietician and nutritionist, makes regular visits to Molokaʻi to connect with cancer survivors. She hosts quarterly nutrition workshops to keep the Molokaʻi cancer community thriving.
In helping to address needs amid the COVID-19 pandemic, PCF Board member, Alysha Sparkman from Equity One Real Estate, and her husband Sidney, who owns SGS Hawaiʻi, donated more than 2,000 pounds of supplies to Molokaʻi in mid-April.
That first delivery was part of an effort put together by State Representative Lynn DeCoite to assist Alu Like, a nonprofit organization that supports Native Hawaiian communities. Air transport was donated by Kamaka Air and some of the supplies also went to Aunty Janice’s House of Blessings, so that she could make and distribute care packages for kupuna.
A second delivery was organized with Molokaʻi’s cancer survivors in mind. Kimokeo Kapahulehua with the Kimokeo Foundation joined La Joy and Sparkman who went to work pulling together the logistics of another load of supplies.
Their first idea was to arrange for a boat to take the shipment over; however, due to state restrictions a boat was not allowed to enter the harbor on Molokaʻi. The group reached out to Rep. DeCoite for help and Kamaka Air came through with the offer of another plan. The plan was big enough to take supplies for the Pacific Cancer Foundation and another load to Alu Like.
Jackie Foster with Street Biker United Hawaiʻi Maui Chapter, Ron Panzo from Nalu’s South Shore Grill and Ekolu contributed with two pallets of food and perishables. Another pallet was supplied by PCF for a total air delivery of nearly 2,000 pounds of food.
Ponce with Molokaʻi General along with Luigi Manera, owner of Architectural Drafting Services, and his wife Kaui with Alu Like on hand to meet the plane upon its arrival on Molokaʻi. The very next day Ponce and fellow nurses Toni Kaulili and Helena Miguel set up the food pantry and began distributing food to Molokaʻi’s cancer survivors.
“It’s so hard not to hug everyone” said Ponce.
“We are so thankful for the generous contributions of all our many sponsors. The people of Maui and Molokaʻi are joined together to make this a happen for our cancer patients, survivors and medical staff. We couldn’t have done it without them,” said La Joy who extended a special thanks to U-Haul of Maui for boxes, Shae Martin for non-perishable items and Raphael Wellerstein of Elite Pacific Properties for their assistance.