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State Honoree

Photo of State Honoree Joie Agoo

Joie Agoo

Mililani, Hawaii

Joie Agoo, 17, of Mililani, Hawaii, a member of the YMCA of Honolulu-Mililani West Oahu Branch and a senior at Mililani High School, worked with a group of friends to prepare and serve sack lunches with fresh produce once a week for 50 people who live in encampments or on the streets of her community. As members of the Mililani YMCA, Joie and her friends obtained a grant to identify a problem in their area and work to solve it. After some research, they decided to focus on providing local people experiencing homelessness with lunches containing fresh fruits and vegetables that they might otherwise not have access to. So in May of 2018, the group founded the “Houseless Project.”

Every week, the group plans a shopping trip to buy fresh food. After school on Wednesdays, they form an assembly line and prepare sandwiches, bag fresh produce, and stuff other items such as chips, fruit bars, snacks and water bottles into individual lunch sacks. They load the lunches into an YMCA bus and head to the places where they know they will find unsheltered people in need of something nutritious to eat. In addition to supplying a weekly meal to people often overlooked by others, Joie said her friends have established relationships with many of the people they serve. “It’s important for us to show them that people care about them, and that they are significant and shouldn’t be looked at any differently than anyone else,” said Joie. “We don’t just feed their stomachs; we strive to feed their hearts and souls.”