Blaisdell Park angels, touching hearts, feeding souls

Feb 16, 2011 | PC Community

 

Every Tuesday and Friday morning at around 7:00am, you can find Eugene Muratsuka at Blaisdell Park in Pearl City setting up his mobile kitchen which is neatly positioned in the bed of his pick up truck.

He has about a half and hour to prepare for the arrival of the park’s homeless population that count on Muratsuka and his group of  “Touch a Heart” volunteers to provide a hot meal and companionship. Meal service runs from 7:30am to 9:00am.

“I have a pot of water which I boil water and the water is kind of like the central thing,” said Muratsuka. “They can make hot oatmeal with the water, coffee and cocoa packets. Also we have peanut butter and jelly and crackers.”

                                                            Photo by Barry Villamil | barry@mypearlcity.com

Eugene Muratsuka prepares his mobile meal service from the back of his pick up truck.

Muratsuka leads a small core of Blaisdell Park angels as the Outreach Director for Touch a Heart, which is a non profit organization that cares for the needs of our growing homeless population on Oahu.

Donations from the community help keep the Touch a Heart meal service operating at Blaisdell Park twice a week. Besides the generous food and cash donations from the community, Muratsuka works to keep the costs per meal to a minimum.

“Right now Touch of Heart is a separate non-profit public charity organization,” said Muratsuka. “Several years back I calculated roughly how much it cost us per feeding, per head and it was only about a $1.25 to $1.40. We also find people who are willing to donate like this morning, you find someone bringing pastries or other things. On Friday we have a couple women alternating and bringing hot breakfast, spam and eggs and rice.”

The newest angel to join the Touch of Heart volunteers is LaSonya Orellana. Last Tuesday, LaSonya showed up at the Blaisdell Park parking lot with a huge pan filled with eggs, assorted breakfast meats and biscuits. Her generosity was truly appreciated by those who were waiting in the meal service food line. LaSonya is a part of our military population in Hawaii and is an example of how one person can help so many people through her giving spirit and huge heart.

“I have been on the island for a little over six months and just really have a burden for the homeless,” said Orellana. “Actually a neighbor and I would go downtown and take food to the homeless people down there not really through an organization. When I saw Touch of Heart I said this is something that I think I would love to join.”

“I feel honored to able to help someone. When I was a teenager, it was the first time I saw homeless people and it really touched my heart. I just wanted to take everyone home but that’s impossible. Its anyway I can help, and this is just a small way,” added Orellana.

                                                             Photo by Barry Villamil | barry@mypearlcity.com

Food provided by Touch a Heart volunteer, LaSonya Orellana on Tuesday.

                                                             Photo by Barry Villamil | barry@mypearlcity.com

The Touch a Heart meal service operation also offers those that they serve in the homeless community an opportunity for fellowship and special “Talk Story” sessions.

“Talk Story is a different level of fellowship,” said Muratsuka. “Our basis is fellowship. We come, serve the meal, and then we get together and get to meet them. We get to talk story with them on one level. Then we created a couple years back, another level where away from the truck, we have a circle of chairs and people are invited to come and talk story. It wasn’t so much as a Bible study class but something in between where you can talk about your problems that you had in the day.”

“A lot of them just want to talk to you,” said Orellana. “They want to feel human. I try to make sure I have time, not to just rush in and give them food but to listen to their stories.”

Three years ago, current Touch a Heart Executive Director, Bob Woods teamed up with Muratsuka to build and expand the organizations meal service to serve more individuals and families who may be in need of assistance.

“We kind of evolved. Eugene is the founder of Touch of Heart and was the Executive Director at that time,” said Woods. This is his thing. He wanted to be out here feeding the folks and my thing is management. We have a perfect fit.”

“Eugene’s vision is to establish a continuum of care for these folks, the ones that come off the street. The first step is to get them some skills, to due things, just keep them moving along, perhaps finding traditional housing and employment. My part of the vision is to start a coalition of food pantries. A gathering place not being a place for them to bring goods to distribute but to bring their ideas to get a coalition around the island,” added Woods.

Volunteers play a big role in continuing to provide the type of service to the community that the Touch of Heart angels deliver each week.

“I think this a great start but the thing is just like any non profit does is the resources,” said Woods. We need to get volunteers. Get them set up. This is a wonderful thing for the people here but we need to expand.  It needs to get bigger the way I see it.”

If you would like to get in contact with Touch a Heart, e-mail Executive Director Bob Woods at: touchaheart@hawaii.rr.com

                                                             Photo by Barry Villamil | barry@mypearlcity.com

Touch a Heart Outreach Director, Eugene Muratsuka (left) volunteer Uncle George (center) and Touch a Heart Executive Director, Bob Woods pose for a photo at Blaisdell Park on Tuesday.

 

Current Touch a Heart meal service outreach programs on Oahu:

Sunday & Wednesday Evenings

Ulehawa Park   5:30 to 7:00pm

 

Monday & Thursday Mornings

Kumuhonua Transitional Shelter – 8:00am to 10:00am

 

Tuesday & Friday Mornings

Blaisdell Park in Pearl City – 7:30am to 9:00am

*Times and locations are subject to change due to availability of outreach volunteers.

Welcome LaSonya!

Welcome Touch a Heart angel volunteer, LaSonya Orellana. Aloha!

Touch a Heart

Transforming lives, one heart at a time

                                                             Photo by Barry Villamil | barry@mypearlcity.com