A new hope: Former client Jamie (right) smiles with Kanoe Case of HOPE Services (Photo courtesy HOPE Services)

HOPE Services Hawaii has received a $2.75 million grant from the Bezos Day One Fund, its biggest-ever one-time donation.

The money comes from Amazon founder Jeff Bezo’s [sic] philanthropic organization in its second year of giving to nonprofits fighting family homelessness.

“We are grateful for the generosity and confidence of the Day 1 Families Fund for supporting and believing in our work toward ending family homelessness in Hawaii,” said Brandee Menino, CEO of HOPE Services Hawaii, in a Nov. 21 press release. “This is truly an amazing and unexpected gift, not only to Hawaii’s most vulnerable families, but to our entire island community.”

Menino said the grant will allow HOPE Services to scale up its work, including street outreach and street medicine programs and an emergency shelter for families in crisis. HOPE Services also plans to expand its homelessness prevention efforts, which include working with landlords to quickly secure housing for families at risk of homelessness.

“This gift will be used to create a sustained, collective impact for those who experience homelessness — both now, and in the future,” Menino said.

The 2019 Bezos Day One fund contributions total $98.5 million and are going to 32 organizations in 23 states. A number of the nonprofits are Catholic-founded or run including HOPE Services, Catholic Charities Eastern Washington, Catholic Social Services Alaska, Covenant House New York, St. Joseph Center, St. Joseph’s Villa, St. Stephen’s Human Services and St. Vincent de Paul in Baltimore.

HOPE Services, a Diocese of Honolulu affiliate organization, is headquartered on the Big Island where it runs eight shelter facilities and served 1,462 people in 2018.

It operates outreach programs and resource centers for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, mental illness, and people leaving incarceration and reentering the community.

The Bezos Day One Fund started in 2018 with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ backing a $2 billion investment in two areas. A “Families Fund” benefits “existing non-profits that help families experiencing homelessness” and a “Academies Fund” is working to “launch and operate a network of high-quality, full-scholarship Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities,” according to the Bezos Day One Fund website.

Read the article direct through the Hawaii Catholic Herald here.