Commonly asked questions:
What does VASH stand for?
VASH stands for Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaiʻi. Our agency got its name when it was once a part of Oʻahu’s “Visitor Aloha Society of Hawai'i” program. The organization on Oʻahu retains that full name. When our organization incorporated independently as a 501(c)(3) organization, we differentiated ourselves by taking the name VASH Hawaiʻi Island. All four major Hawaiʻian Islands has a Visitor Assistance Program, each operating separately and independently of one another, but each dedicated to the mission of sharing the aloha spirit with visitors facing adversities. All our programs are funded in part by the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority (HTA).
Who is eligible for VASH services?
Only those visiting Hawaiʻi Island are eligible for services upon referral from an appropriate agency. To determine if someone is a visitor, we will look at a variety of variables such as home address, property ownership, length of stay, whether the person possesses a return ticket home, and where they are staying. Visitors from neighbor islands may be eligible for services as well.
Why does VASH serve only visitors?
There are a variety of services and support systems available for island residents who also have the advantage of friends and neighbors close by. Visitors are far from home…far from family and friends and their own resources and support systems. VASH services are funded by the visitor hotel tax dollars through the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority and are intended to provide a safety net for visitors.
How does a visitor receive assistance from VASH Hawaiʻi Island?
Visitors are referred to VASH Hawaiʻi Island usually from the Hawaiʻi County Police Department, local hospitals, or others in the visitor industry. These are generally the “first responders” who can advise VASH about a visitor’s situation and the potential need for assistance. The services we provide vary with each situation.
Can I volunteer for VASH Hawaiʻi Island?
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please let us know by contacting us through our "Contact Us" page.
Our volunteers have been called "angels in action" because of the care and compassion they show to visitors during traumatic times. The personal contact we have with those we serve is often the most valuable element of all we offer.
What services does VASH Hawaiʻi Island provide?
The services we provide vary with each situation. VASH staff or volunteers assess each case on an individual basis and prioritize needs. This involves a personal visit or a phone call with the visitor so that we can understand the situation and the resources and support a visitor may already have, as well as those supportive services that might be needed. Some of the more typical services may include the following:
• Information and Referral (i.e. credit card cancellations, ID theft information, etc.)
• Food certificates (restaurant and/or grocery store) to meet immediate needs
• Local emergency transportation (i.e. from hospital to hotel)
• Assistance with changes to travel, lodging and rental car arrangements
• Bereavement support in visitor death cases
• Emotional support
• Translation Services
• Small aloha gift bags
Our goal is to be the family or friendly neighbor next door for a visitor who is far from home and their own support systems.
Does VASH pay for airfare or hotels?
No. VASH is not able to assist visitors with airfare or lodging expenses. We may be able to advocate for airline fee waivers or lodging discounts but can make no assurances of their availability.
Does VASH Hawaiʻi Island use volunteers? Yes! Our volunteers provide hundreds of hours of service in assisting visitors as well as doing office work, assisting with events, and soliciting donations.
Are donations tax deductible?
Yes. VASH Hawaiʻi Island is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with donations being deductible to the extent allowed by law. We accept cash donations as well as in-kind gifts of goods and services. VASH also accepts donations through PayPal. Just click on the PayPal Donate button at the bottom of this page.
Is VASH Hawaiʻi Island a part of the pier greeting or the Aloha Patrol?
No. Those wonderful services are operated by other organizations and their terrific volunteers. VASH services target crisis situations where a visitor needs immediate or urgent assistance.