Avery Rogers couldn’t sleep Tuesday night.
The 53-year-old Kalapana resident said he had butterflies in his stomach keeping him awake as he awaited Wednesday morning, when he could catch a ride to Kainaliu. Once he arrived, Rogers picked up the keys to a 1991 Ford Bronco, a free vehicle provided to his family of four from King’s Daughters Ministry Inc.
Rogers recently purchased another vehicle, for about $300.
“It made it about three months,” he said. “Everything on it was dangerous. There was nothing on it that was safe.”
Rogers, who is married with two children, ages 1 and 4, moved to Kalapana about eight years ago from Alaska. He had previously lived in the remote area of Hawaii Island about 30 years ago, before the lava flow. A construction worker by trade, he said he “used up” his back in that physically demanding field and is now disabled.
In addition to his health problems, Rogers’ children also have frequent doctors appointments because of chronic health conditions.
His family stayed in Kalapana Wednesday while he rode with a neighbor to Kona to pick up the car, which only had 50,000 miles on the odometer, despite being 22 years old. The Bronco had been prepped with new tires, an updated safety inspection sticker and a full tank of gas.
The latter was a pleasant surprise.
“I was a little worried about the gas,” Rogers said. “I figured I had just (money for gas) enough to make it.”
Helen Vailuu, King’s Daughters Ministry president, handed Rogers the keys and guided him through the process of signing over the title. The nonprofit organization, which runs a thrift store in Kainaliu bearing its name, has given away several cars to families in need over the years.
“There’s so many people that need help out here,” Vailuu said. “It’s sad.”
King’s Daughters does more than give away cars. The organization is opening its first transitional women’s shelter in Hilo in September. Another thrift store, this one in Kailua-Kona’s Old Industrial Area, is also slated to open in the fall, Vailuu said. The thrift store in Kainaliu provides funding for the organization, but also gives some of the people Vailuu is helping a place to work and learn job skills.
“We try to get them to want to work,” she said.
Starting soon, her thrift store will have to make payroll, as the all-volunteer organization is going to begin paying some workers, she said.
Vailuu is always looking for more donations, both cash and items to sell in her shops.
Each Thanksgiving, Vailuu and the King’s Daughters give away turkeys — more than 300 in recent years — to families to help them celebrate the holiday.
“This is such a passion of mine, because of the need of people,” she said. “Sometimes we just need to be there to pick them up. They need to know people are out there to help them.”