Brandee Menino, whose achievements in the battle against homelessness on the Big Island are fueled by her driving optimism, aloha and a surplus of hope, will share her passion with Hawaii lawmakers and other civic leaders at the 9 a.m. Red Mass, Jan. 19, in the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace.
Menino is the keynote speaker at the Catholic diocese’s annual prayer to the Holy Spirit for guidance and wisdom for Hawaii’s civic leaders. Bishop Larry Silva will preside.
Menino is the founding CEO of HOPE Services Hawaii, a 10-year-old Catholic-affiliated non-profit whose goal is to end homelessness on the island.
Menino said she will talk about how her organization “has been blessed, for the past 10 years, to be in partnership with business, government and faith communities, inspiring hope and changing lives, by focusing time and resources serving with the most vulnerable, responding to COVID-19 and natural disasters, demonstrating that affordable housing for all is fundamental to community health care and calling for legislation this year that will support Hawaii moving forward together as one human family sharing our common home.”
HOPE Services operates 10 shelter facilities with more than 200 shelter beds and supports an additional 225 households. Menino played an integral part in mobilizing over 50 businesses, 200 volunteers and the U.S. National Guard to build 20 micro-shelters in 30 days for medically fragile and older adults displaced by the 2018 Kilauea eruption.
In fiscal year 2019, HOPE Services reported moving 1,110 people into 633 permanent housing units and kept 78% of the formerly homeless housed for more than two years
Scott Morishige, the state Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness, said the non-profit’s programs helped lower Hawaii Island’s homeless population from 1,395 individuals in 2016 to 797 as of January 2020, a 42% decrease overall and a 55% decrease in homeless families with minor children.
Carol Ignacio, the retired director of the diocesan Office for Social Ministry who first hired Menino 20 years ago, called her a “strong, smart, committed, dedicated leader.”
“She never forgets why we exist and who we serve. She is as comfortable with those in the trenches as she is with national and local top guns,” Ignacio told the Hawaii Catholic Herald in September on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of HOPE Services Hawaii.
“Brandee delivers,” Ignacio said. “She walks the talk. She lives and maintains a can-do attitude that is contagious and folks recognize this. She is tough, fair and empathetic — and one can quickly recognize a team that resonates with these qualities.
“HOPE Services is recognized nationally and locally as the homeless provider that the government, other nonprofits and the community ‘go to,’ without exception as making a difference with the population we serve,” Ignacio said.
Menino is the recipient of the Hawaii Community Foundation’s 2019 Ho‘okele Non-Profit Leadership award, the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce 2020 Athena Award, and the Kuikahi Mediation Center’s 2020 Peacemaker award. She is also a Weinberg Fellow and an Omidyar Fellow.
The Red Mass is celebrated during the week of the opening of the Hawaii State Legislature which this year convenes on Jan. 20.
Invitations have been sent out to members of the state’s executive, legislative and judicial branches, city and county officials, members of the military and representatives of other religious denominations.
Because of coronavirus pandemic social distancing, seating for the Mass is very limited. Those who want to attend must make a reservation through Eventbrite by Jan. 15. Here is the link: www.eventbrite.com/e/126344889967
Pay parking is available at Century Square, Capitol Place and Kukui Plaza.
A 700-year-old tradition in Europe, the Red Mass was introduced in the United States early last century and has become an annual event in Washington, D.C., and other major mainland cities. It has been celebrated in Hawaii since 1955.
The Mass is named for the color of the vestments used for a Mass of the Holy Spirit.