ALEA Bridge Project Helping Homeless

ALEA+Bridge+Project+Helping+Homeless

Chanelle Camero

    The ALEA Bridge Project, founded in January 2016 by Director of Operations Joseph Acosta, is a non-profit organization that concentrates on assisting the homeless around the island, with the aid of various people and groups, including Latter Day Saints Mililani Stake, Mililani Hongwanji and MHS.

    “We provide assistance in getting individuals and families into shelter, whether permanent housing, transitional or emergency shelter. We assist with homeless prevention, relocation and we assist with treatment for substance abuse with the help of partner agencies,” said Office Manager Nicky Winter.

    Acosta was a former police officer with the Honolulu Police Department (HPD). Both his previous job and family helped him realize the need for change. “I could see that there was a lack of resources out here for the people in Central Oahu and North Shore. Officers weren’t equipped or trained to deal with the homeless population,” said Acosta. “After handing out cookies with my children to the homeless and to the low income areas, my daughter asked me, ‘Daddy what are they going to eat later? That was just a snack.’ I had no response for her, which got me to thinking long and hard about what I was going to do. Then it was my faith that ultimately led me to my decision of resigning from the police department and starting up ALEA Bridge.”

    The name ALEA has multiple significant meanings, symbolic of his children and the organization’s purpose. “They were playing around with the first initials of my children and came up with ALEA. It also has a Hebrew meaning. To ascend, to rise, exalted. Then ‘bridge’ was added because it’s basically what we strive to do, to be the bridge,” said Acosta.

    Many of Acosta’s family members became involved with the project. “I am glad that my brother and sister encouraged me to come on board. By working together and supporting one another, I am certain that we will be able to make a significant impact in addressing the needs of our community, and improving the lives of those in need,” said Phil Acosta.

    The ALEA Bridge Project has personal significance to those involved. “I personally know how it is to be homeless, for a short period. And I know how it is to struggle, and needing assistance. I need to make sure that ALEA Bridge continues to grow and be successful. ALEA Bridge is here for those that can’t help themselves,” said Joseph Acosta.

    The importance of this project is centralized around the idea of extending a hand and resolving the issue. “The reason why we go out into the community and into the bushes and under bridges is because these people need that hand that reaches out to them. We become the bridge to getting them back on their feet, to be self sufficient. The people in the community play a huge role in helping the homeless,” said Joseph Acosta.

    Since the launch of the project, the organization has started to make connections around the island. “The community knows they can come to us and we’ll assist in any way we can, whether it be a client looking for shelter, a partner looking for an assist, or just a member of the community looking to donate,” said Winter. “I think this project is important because we bring fresh eyes and a new perspective to an overwhelming, and often disheartening issue. The undeniable fact is homelessness cannot be ended without the community.”

    By helping those in need, the people involved get a sense of fulfillment. “It’s a wonderful feeling to know that we are making a direct impact, for the better, to all the people that we encounter. It is definitely more than a job, but rather a calling to truly serve the needs of the community,” said Phil Acosta.

    ALEA Bridge continues to strive toward their ultimate goal of ending  and preventing homelessness. They are looking for help through donations, service partnerings and volunteers.

-#####-