Emily Manuel, a single mom from Kalaheo never forgot what one pharmacist did for her in her time of need, which was the catalyst to why she donates so much of her time to Kaua‘i’s community events before and during the pandemic.
“As a single mom when my daughter had heart surgery done, she was four, we got medevac’d to Honolulu…we were there for three months,” Manuel said in tears. “When we got released to come back to Kaua‘i, I had to refill one of her seven medications. It cost around $100 dollars, and I didn’t have it.”
As the pharmacist went to check what hospital Manuel came from, Manuel took a moment to pray.
“I was streaming in tears, she was really nice,” Manuel said. “She called Kapiolani Medical Center for Women &Children and said she could tact the medicine on to my daughter’s medical bill. I remember when she stepped away, I prayed to God and asked ‘If you can help me take care of my daughter, I will give back.’ Other people showed me graces too, when we had to fly to San Diego for her treatment, the hotel staff donated flight points for my daughter to fly.”
According to Manuel, all of the little acts of kindness throughout her struggles when her daughter needed medical care, helped her get through a rough time, and inspired her to always give back.
“When we were at the ICU, I had no income,” said Manuel. “They had space at the Ronald McDonald House and the Children’s Miracle network paid for the flight I didn’t have to pay for. God has paved the way. Now I give back not because of obligation, it feels good, because I know what’s it like to struggle.
“To see other people in the position where they need help, it feels nice to give my time or donate where I can. When you struggle, it makes you more empathetic and it feels good to give back,” said Manuel.
Manuel said that there were a lot of people along her journey that inspired her to volunteer at different community events in her free time.
Before and during the pandemic Manuel could be found volunteering at Habitat for Humanity and at her church New Hope in Lihu‘e at their food distribution drives, or on their online services.
“When the church has services online, I help with the chat line for their Facebook or YouTube account online weekly,” Manuel said. “I also help with the Hawai‘i Food Bank and Red Cross Kaua‘i Chapter. I help their response team during natural disasters by delivering things to shelters, recruiting, and some back end stuff when not in the middle of a crisis.”
Manuel was apart of the weekly pancake distribution at Puakea Golf Course during the beginning of the pandemic and now has a food distribution through New Hope this Saturday at the Kaua‘i Veterans Center.
“We eventually did a grocery food drive, now we are doing it twice a month, every other Saturday,” Manuel said. “Pastor John Cabello and Chief Todd Raybuck partnered up and for several months I was there at 4 a.m. until 1 p.m, I committed most of my day.”
Kauai Police Department’s Chief Todd Raybuck said, “Emily is a great asset to our community. She brought her positive energy and smile each weekend during our Police, Pastors, and Platters food distribution events. I am grateful she was part of the team that delivered hope to our community in need.”
Fran Roach, a friend of Manuel describes his thoughts on Manuel and her contributions to Kaua‘i’s community.
“For as long as I have known Emily, she has always put other people in front of her self,” said Roach. “It just comes naturally for her to volunteer for a variety of things especially at the New Hope Lihu‘e Church doing weekly live streams on Sundays and then she’s always at the food bank (doing) grocery giveaways there and many other locations assisting the wonderful people across our island.
“She is the most positive individual I have met and is always giving a helping hand to those in need with a beautiful smile on her face,” said Roach.
When Manuel is not volunteering, she is multitasking and working for eXp Realtor as a realtor, while she builds her Kaua‘i Sanitation Services, the first of its kind on Kaua‘i inspired by the pandemic. Manuel is always finding ways to help stimulate Kaua‘i’s economy.
“We rely so heavily on tourism,” Manuel said. “I try to stimulate our economy. Try to keep the money around the island. I’m hoping that this movement will help others think similarly. I totally understand tourism, but I also knew we needed to develop ways to self sustain. I just asked myself: ‘How can I contribute even if it’s in a small way.’
“One of my dreams as far as a goal,” Manuel said. “I always thought about creating a foundation. It would benefit women with children with special needs like my daughter who had a heart complication. That was the time I needed the most help. They would get the extra help needed to get them through.”
Source: The Garden Island