Sweet Jacquline is 8 years old and has been courageously battling leukemia for over two years.  Her young family lives in Haiku on Maui where her dad works as a fire fighter and her mother repairs windsurfing and kite sails for a living.  Jacquline’s cancer struck like a disaster and has been “the hardest thing” that the family has ever faced.

Jacquline has had multiple regimes of chemotherapy and radiation to kill the tumors that grow in her little body.  Her skin is left burnt and sore.  She is in frequent pain and has a feeding tube inserted in her stomach.  As the tumors disappear the family finds hope and happiness, and when they’ve grown back, fear, anger, and devastation, arise.  After they wipe away their tears, they rally, find their hope & faith, and they trudge on looking for alternative interventions.  They have gone to see healer John of God in Brazil and are hoping to go to the Gerson Institute in Mexico in search for a cure.  It has been a horrible roller coaster ride emotionally, physically and economically.

While the kind Maui community has been quick to offer help, recently the family was beginning to burn out badly.  “I’m at the end of my rope” said Jacquline’s dad in a flat tone.  After two years of dealing with the crisis, it became unbearable to ask people for help like doing laundry, transporting children, and doing dishes, but this is the help that the family needs to survive.

Last night we started a Share the Care group to help.  Share the Care addresses what people with illness and injury need, and without saying it, applies a restorative approach by inviting community to assist the family.  Simply having committed caring people rally around the family is a huge help.

While restorative justice is commonly thought of only in the context of crime and justice, and bringing offenders and victims together for a shared meeting to address repairing the harm, restorative approaches can be used successfully for people who never meet and for other problems.

Restorative justice is about community meeting people’s needs in a shared group process, which is what Share the Care does for ill and injured people and their families.  Share the Care is a powerful organized volunteer care giver model.

Jacquline’s family needs simple things to help them from not being totally overwhelmed with the crisis.  Things like scheduled play dates for Jacquline, someone to pick up her sister from school and take her to canoe paddlling practice, help with laundry, etc.  With only five days notice we emailed enough people to get about 15 to attend the first meeting and commit to being a member of Jacquline’s Team (Share the Care encourages groups to adopt names).  One person took over the coordinator position and will create an email list of everyone who attended and committed to helping.  She will create a two week calendar with times for helping with the families needs and communicate regularly with the family and Jacquline’s Team.  She will also arrange for other on going gatherings to keep everyone connected.

“I am a busy person, usually very organized but lately a little spinning out of control.  When I heard about this meeting, I thought it’s a matter of priorities, and being part of this group and helping this family is important.  This is what I want my sons to learn in life.  To help others, be a part of your community.  I can find time to give a few hours a week,” said one woman.

“This is an opportunity.  I am honored to help.  Thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of this,” said another woman with tears in her eyes.

“Isn’t helping each other what community is all about?  I want to do anything I can to help.  I know they’d do the same for me and my family if we needed it,” said a man.

The day after Jacquline’s first Share the Care meeting, her parents were able to go surfing at Ho’okipa Beach together early in the morning with a Jacquline’s Team member caring for the children while they were away.  Shortly after, another Team member came and took her mom to church.  Another Team member is going grocery shopping for the family and another is taking a visiting Team member on an 8 mile run later today in the neighborhood.  The group is building community and creating peace and hope for many.

Helping people meet their needs is a restorative response to problem solving.

No one escapes crisis and Share the Care’s simple model provides the help that most of us will need someday.

Mahalo to the Share the Care creators who took the time to write a book and establish its useful website.