Kupuna Achiever: Evelyn Balatico on volunteering with the Hawaii Foodbank

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Evelyn Balatico was born at St. Francis Hospital. She grew up with a large ohana and was number eight in a family of 10.

“A lot of fights, a lot of fun,” she recalls smiling.

Balatico spent many years volunteering with the Hawaii Foodbank packing canned goods in order to help feed Hawaii’s hungry and give back to the community.

“After I got to the Foodbank, we used to pack canned goods — used to say, ‘Two vegetables, two meats, two fruits,’ she remembers. “We passed them out on Wednesdays, and when I first started, people would come once a month and pick up the box.”

Balatico remembers helping to feed a number of homeless people during that time. People were only allowed to pick up food once a month unless they were really hungry or in desperate need of food.

“We had many homeless. It was really hard, you know, because you feel like you have everything you need — and they really don’t, yeah? You don’t have everything you want, but you have everything you need,” she says.

Throughout her life, Balatico has learned that it’s important to accept all people.

“People who are more smart than you and people who are not very smart… you have to adapt to them. You see so many people who make sure they try do do their best and work hard at whatever job they do, because it’s not easy,” she says. “You have to endure what people give you.”

Balatico says when she first started, she had a hard time.

“People give me a hard time,” she remembers. “But I went home and I prayed every night, and I kept praying: “I know I can do this. I know I can do this.’ That’s how I kept going.”