Hawaiian Hope has 7 distinct projects in our portfolio. Each of these projects is designed to build on the strengths of technology, to promote a community familiar with technology and to assist in ending the problem of homelessness. Each of our projects is designed to be financially self sufficient and to function without the need of government grants.
The Internet Cafe.
Why we are doing this ? The need is great ! Just one example of this is the fact that many of the jobs now available can ONLY be applied for by using the Internet. Hawaiian Hope recently conducted a survey of 100 companies and found that 1/3rd of them no longer accept paper applications.
The Hawaiian Hope Internet Cafe won a Business Plan competition through Chaminade University for its rock solid plan. In our first of many planned Internet cafes - our “Proof of Concept”, the Hawaiian Hope Internet Cafe operated for 6 months and offered 10 computers for public access. Computers were equipped with a variety of tools including : Internet access, Word Processing, Typing Tutor games (very popular among the clients!), Spreadsheets and Photo Editing. Our room had built into it a large 11 foot wide screen and a projector for projecting images during use in training classes, presentations and even video conferencing.
During our Proof of Concept, we not only surpassed our expectations, we completely blew by them. Our original projections were : 200 clients in the first week, 500 in the first month, 1,000 in the second month, 1,500 in the third month. What our actual results were : 200 clients in the first 3 days, 500 in the first week, and 2,500 in the first month. We beat our 5th month projection in the first month. We had a total of 15,000 people through the front door in the first 5 months of operations and paid almost all of our bills as an organization from this single project. And, because of the expertise we have in configuring computers, never once did we have a virus infect one of our Internet Cafe computers, and 15,000 people is a LOT of web surfing !
Our Youngest client was a determined and independent 6 year old that would come in on his own with no shoes on and look at you with those big brown eyes till he got some time on the computer. Our oldest client was an 83 year old man that never used a computer before. On his first “Typing Tutor” game he was hooked, and came in multiple times every day after to practice his typing and learn to use the computer. He learned to read the newspaper online and started to use email for the first time.
Also several milestones for our Internet Cafe were the fact that it was very popular with the neighborhood kids. In fact it was so popular, that with only 10 computers, our typical night included 30-35 children (plus adults) hanging out waiting their turn to use the computers. One evening while talking to one of the young ladies, when asked if she wanted to use a computer, she said, “no.” Then when asked, “so... what, you just hanging out ?” her response was “Yea. no one in 'da hood' now, everyone is over here. Nothing to do out there now. (in the hood)" The significance of this can not be overstated. We are taking kids off the streets and giving them an option to stay out of trouble. With this and through our 'Proof of Concept' we now acknowledge that 10 computers are completely inadequate. Our next and most additional locations are planned to have 100 computers available for use.
Also, one milestone we personally think beats out all of our other successes as the most significant events during this time, is that ONE of our customers, a 14 year old rough kid affiliated with gangs, after about the 4th month open - came in late in the evening and announced to us and his friends : “I dropped my colors. I'm not gang bangin no more.” He said : “You know, i been thinking about this.” (as he looked around at the computers, at the snack bar, at the movie projector, at the large 11 foot screen) “This is the safest place for me to be.” (as his friends sat silent, with stunned looks on their faces) “See you tomorrow Mr. Curtis” (as he gave everyone high 5's and walked out the door.) The next day and every day after he showed up wearing a white T-Shirt, and not his typical "colors." After him, over the next few weeks, 2 more kids did the same and denounced their gang affiliations.
For these and other reasons, we are inspired to press forward with our plans for multiple sites throughout the state where we will get the community involved in the use of technology and helping people to understand the doors technology can open for them. We also look forward to working with you the community in supporting these efforts and demonstrating to others what we can accomplish together as One.