2020 2nd Quarter: STATS + STORIES


VASH Hawaiʻi Island received 18 referrals and assisted 43 visitors


A visitor from California was hospitalized with pneumonia. There was initial concern that he was not going to survive, however, his condition gradually improved. His wife is a breast cancer patient, and flew to Kaiser Permanente’s Moanalua Hospital on Oahu for treatment while awaiting her husband’s recovery. In April, VASH assisted the couple by contacting Hawaiian Airlines to get their return tickets and set up their departure. They flew home April 28.

Hawaiian Airlines called VASH requesting assistance for a gentleman whose bag was stolen and contained his credit cards and ID. VASH advised the visitor to contact the police and make a report so he would be allowed to fly. He did have some form of identification, because a Pualani Elite Hawaiian Air member overheard the gentleman’s situation and purchased tickets to San Francisco for him and his companion.

A visitor had his identification and a concealed carry permit stolen when he left them with his scooter. He was staying at The Grand Naniloa Hotel, who contacted VASH about his predicament. VASH advised the visitor to contact the police and make a report. The gentleman moved here with the intention to become a resident, so that was the extent of VASH’s assistance.

VASH assisted a visitor who was physically assaulted in the Malama Supermarket. She sustained several blows to her head and needed medical attention, however her insurance was not going to cover her needs while here. VASH assisted her in finding a flight back to Seattle.

VASH received several calls from potential visitors inquiring about future travel, or asking for assistance to leave the island prior to their scheduled departure date. VASH also spent time in April conducting Zoom trainings and meetings with volunteers. VASH also initiated mask making for first responders.


VASH Hawaiʻi Island assisted a visitor from California who was traveling with her boyfriend and needed assistance finding alternative lodging after he assaulted her. The visitor was scheduled to fly home the first week of June. VASH assisted by arranging a safe place for her to stay in the Mauna Lani area. She was provided support and emotional care, and was thankful for our assistance.


VASH assisted a visitor from Washington who lost his wallet and was concerned about traveling due to COVID 19 and no ID. VASH assisted by referring the visitor to the Kona Police Department for a letter of identification to allow him to move through TSA. VASH assured the visitor this method would work, as during winter months many visitors lose their wallets in the surf. He felt reassured and contacted VASH to say thank you upon arriving home.

VASH assisted a visitor from France in returning home. She planned on leaving in early April. However, due to Covid-19, there were no international flights available. Meanwhile her finances had dwindled because her visit was extended a month. VASH purchased her a ticket to Oahu so she could catch her connecting flight to San Francisco and onto France. We also provided her with a cloth mask.

VASH received a call from a visitor from Washington who claimed to have a brain injury and couldn’t remember where he was staying. He had been referred to VASH by the Kona Police Department. He said all of his belongings were stolen. He said he was outside of the Kona police station and couldn’t remember where he was lodging. VASH assisted by obtaining his lodging information from the Visitors Bureau, however, before calling the man back with the address, VASH followed up with Kona PD. During the follow up phone call, we realized the man who was calling was stalking a women by the name he had given both VASH and the Kona PD. The case was turned over to the police.

VASH assisted a 74-year-old visitor who was staying with his girlfriend in the Kona area. He claimed he was being held against his will and was unable to leave the residence. The man’s daughter, who is a sheriff in Florida, called the Kona Police Department for assistance. The Kona PD assisted with gathering the visitor’s belongings. VASH assisted by arranging an UBER ride to KOA Airport. The daughter was very grateful for VASH’s assistance.

VASH received a call from a Spanish interpreter for a California visitor who had questions about traveling to Hawaiʻi. VASH explained the quarantine mandate was in place until August 1st, and if they arrived prior to that time, they would have to quarantine for two weeks. VASH then told them they could stay informed, by visiting Governor.Hawaii.gov to view the Governor’s “Strategies to Stay Safe.”

VASH received a call from a resident whose mother had passed away and was going to have cousins come for funeral services. They asked if they could break quarantine for the walk to the cliffs. VASH Hawaiʻi Island directed them to the Department of Transportation website which is handling all the COVID-19 Safety considerations for travelers. There is an email address to request an exemption.

Mitch Roth, Prosecuting Attorney for the County of Hawaiʻi, called VASH for assistance to fly 21 violators of the emergency quarantine. They were being held at South Hilo Police Station with a $4000 bail for each of them. Jessica Lani Rich, President & CEO of VASH Oahu, was contacted immediately to begin arranging tickets for the violators. She informed VASH Hawaiʻi Island of the possibility the violators belonged to a cult lead by Eligio Bishop, referred to as “Nature Boy,” which turned out to be correct. The violators went to court and refused the tickets Jessica arranged for them. They said they came with intentions of staying and living on the Island of Hawaiʻi. They requested a trial hearing for June 25 and all the airline tickets were cancelled. The individuals ultimately changed their minds and accepted the tickets back to Los Angeles, California.


VASH Hawaiʻi Island received a $2,700 grant from Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority. VASH used the grant to make and distribute 515 masks across the island to police officers and other nonprofits.  All masks were created with specs provided by Kaiser Permanente and made by volunteers around the island. The organization spent over 550 hours sewing and delivering these masks to the community. Big Island volunteers included Garrett, Kristina, Patti, Dede and Beckie. VASH also made and delivered an additional 175 mask for other non-profit organizations including, Full Life, Empowering People with Disabilities, Special Olympics West Hawaiʻi and The Children’s Justice Center in Kailua-Kona.