Next Step Homeless Shelter at Kaka‘ako/ Waikīkī Health Center (WHS)

The Next Step Shelter invites college students and faculty to come and help mentor and tutor the children of the shelter as part of their academic work. Volunteers are welcome too!

The Shelter

The shelter is housed in a large warehouse with up to 200 people, about one-third of which are children. There are separate sections for families, couples, and singles. The shelter opens at 5:30 pm in the evening and closes at 8:30 am in the morning every weekday. It is open throughout the day on weekends. Many of the people using the shelter are recent immigrants, mostly from Micronesian countries.

WHERE: The mentoring, tutoring and other activities that service-learning students participate in usually take place at the tables at the Diamond Head side of the shelter towards the children's section next to the administrative offices in the trailer inside the warehouse.
Before you come the first time, be sure to follow the instructions below under "How to get started".
When you visit the shelter, park alongside the warehouse (designated parking only). Buses on Ala Moana Boulevard (several lines from Ala Moana) will take you to the South Street corner. Once at the Shelter, report to the front desk and sign in. Map to the Shelter.

If you have any questions, please email

back to top


Project Details


When: Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings within the time frame from 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Onsite coordinator: Kapua Tani.
Commitment: Minimum twenty-five (25) hours over the semester, preferably in at least in two-hour segments. Once or twice a week is a good model. Work with children on their homework assignments, play, talk story, etc. Help out with food serving and other things that may come up.

back to top



Once you have gone through the initial orientation (see below) and have become familiar with the Shelter and its people, it is possible - and highly appreciated by the members of the Shelter - for students and faculty to help out with or create special programs for children and adults in close cooperation with and under the supervision of Kapua Tani. Projects can be educational, or just for fun. Generally, the activities involving Shelter members should take place during the regular opening hours and at the Shelter.

Examples of special projects are community outreach projects, including the S2S (Surf to Serve on every other Saturday), Citizens' Patrols 5:30-6:30 pm on Wednesdays, and participation in selected environmental and cultural projects, including activities under the Mālama I Nā Ahupuaʻa service-learning program.

An example of an occasional activity/special event that needs planning, organizing, media-contacts, etc is the yearly Valentine's Day Breakfast event on Feb. 14.

A good model for a special program could be the language classes that UHM medical students ran in 2006 under the leadership of Mika Kie Weissbuch and Adria Honda. They met with their students twice a week, and tutored 1-3 students at a time in English as second language. It was mostly Micronesian women of the older generation, who were participating. If you were to create something similar, you could plan to teach one-on-one for a 40-45 minutes per session, or you could choose to teach the whole group together. You can develop your own curriculum, use a curriculum from another source such as the SHINE program, or simply talk story.

Once you have started your work at the shelter, you are welcome to suggest special projects. If you have an idea for a project, please contact Kapua Tani or Ulla Hasager, who may also help you with supplies, curricula, forms, permissions, etc. Anonymous interviews for research can be acquired ONLY through the process of commitment, building trust and rapport, signing confidentiality release forms and approval from Kapua Tani. You need to attend one of the required orientations before any consideration of an interview request is given. At the training sessions, you can discuss ideas for special projects with our onsite coordinator, Kapua Tani. All initiatives must be approved by him.

back to top


Through participant observation and talking story with workers and members at the shelter, students have great opportunities to learn, while working at the shelter. By showing commitment and building trust, they may be able to actually get to a point where they can conduct interviews with members at the Shelter. To set up formal interviews, potential researchers are required to produce signed confidentiality release forms and obtain approval from our site coordinator, Kapua Tani. All other research requests must also be screened and approved by our site coordinator.

back to top


How to get Started

Sign up:
1. Please send an email to explaining your interest and introducing yourself. Include name, student ID#, institution of higher education, class, instructor, email address, phone number, availability on a weekly basis, and a statement about why you are interested in working at the shelter. Include any questions you may have about the program. Space is limited, so please get started early in the semester, if you want to secure a position at the shelter.

2. Prepare to comply with your institution of higher education's paperwork requirements - usually registration, waiver, site agreement, and timesheet. Note that UHM requires that you submit the signed, original waiver to the address on the form before you go out and meet the community partner.
See Forms.

3. Once you have received a reply from the csssl coordinator, and submitted the required registration and waiver forms to your institution of higher education, you are ready to contact the Shelter to let Kapua know which of several scheduled orientation sessions you are able to attend. It is required to attend one of the sessions. Minimum 24 hours before appearing at the shelter, send our site coordinator, Mr. Kapua Tani an email introducing yourself and telling him which orientation session you plan to attend. Do not include any questions about the program in this email - if you have questions, direct them to or call 956 4218 - it is our job to help you.

Class Presentations: Kapua and Ulla are willing to give brief class presentations. Please contact with requests.

Extended orientations and forums may be arranged. Please check our Calendar for additional information.

Faculty considering integration into course work, research projects, or special events/one-time projects at the shelter: Please contact faculty coordinator, Ulla Hasager.

Requirements: TB clearance. Comply with your IHE/institution of higher education's registration requirements, before you go to the shelter. Regular volunteers do not need the IHE forms. Dress Code: Dress comfortably and decent: shorts, T-shirts, slippers, and tank tops are okay.

If you need more information about getting started, please email

back to top

Contact Information


Mr. Tani takes care of all matters relating to training, scheduling,  assignment of tasks, permissions to interview, etc. Please be sure to consult him first with any ideas for initiatives or involvement of Shelter members in research projects. 

back to top