French Novelist Gustave Flaubert once wrote, “The most glorious moments in your life are not the so-called days of success, but rather those days when out of dejection and despair you feel rise in you a challenge to life, and the promise of future accomplishments.”
I’ve had many glorious moments.
When I was six, my single mom, sister Alyssa and I were homeless on the Big Island. We had just moved there from Montana and my mom was trying to make a better life for us by enrolling in college. Unfortunately, with two young children and no steady source of income, she struggled to make ends meet and we ended up living in a Volkswagen van on the beach.
I knew we were poor. We relied on food stamps. And there were times I was so worried about my mom getting enough food that I would save my school lunch for her. But I didn’t let this define me. I didn’t allow for any negativity. I took it as an opportunity to rise to the challenge and today I feel very fortunate that I can share this experience with others and show them that no matter where you come from, you can always reach for higher rungs in the ladder of life.
My promise of future accomplishments has manifested itself in many ways. Working for seven years at one of Hawaii’s largest nonprofit organizations, I was able to serve over 6,000 underprivileged youngsters on a weekly basis. I’ve helped feed the homeless as the organizer of Christmas Eve Under Nimitz Viaducts. As Mrs. Hawaii, I broadened public awareness of healthy nutrition for all, but especially for low-income populations throughout the Islands. As a wife to my husband, Chad, a Honolulu police officer, and mother to my three-year-old son C.J., I uphold traditional family values based on those of our parents and grandparents.
I’m saddened to see residents living on our streets and decisions being made at our State Capitol based on self, not service. And, I feel compelled to rise to the challenge once again. I truly believe we can eliminate homelessness by putting our communities’ best interests ahead of our own. I’m ready to make this one of my glorious moments on the next rung on my ladder of life. I am hopeful you will share this moment with me.