How a Single Mom from Micronesia Thrives in Hawai’i

Serving homeless families helps this young mother overcome her own challenges.

In Hawaiʻi, ʻohana extends beyond our own immediate families. Our communities are made up of neighbors helping neighbors, friends who become family and individuals looking out for the well-being of our keiki.

My name is Nannette Fritz, and I am a program assistant for the Mikiala Program at Parents And Children Together (PACT). It’s a career path that I took after overcoming my own challenges and obstacles.

Imagine having to raise children in a new country without knowing how the school systems work or where to go for childcare. This is the story for many families in Hawaiʻi and was the case for me.

I was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and raised by my grandparents in Chuuk, one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia. After graduating from high school, my mother passed away. While grieving my loss, I attended college in Micronesia for a brief period before setting my sights on a better life overseas.

Like many Micronesians, I ended up in Hawaiʻi. Once I arrived, I found it difficult to fit in the local workplace—especially as a single mother. I quickly discovered the challenges of balancing work and raising a family.

I bounced around different jobs, accepted help when it was offered, and just barely stayed afloat as I struggled to raise my two little ones.

Then I stumbled upon a flyer in Palolo for the Sunday Project, a program offered by Parents And Children Together.

The Sunday Project provides culturally driven learning opportunities and resources for families who are new to Hawaiʻi. For many families, the Sunday Project is a lifeline. For me, it paved the path of my career in service, and more importantly, allowed me to become a better mom for my two girls.

As a program assistant for the Mikiala Program, I work with the most vulnerable local families, many of whom are homeless. We visit public parks to bridge the gap from homelessness to housing by connecting families to valuable resources including health screenings, learning activities and family mentoring. We believe that every child should have access to education regardless of where they live, and my own personal experience has allowed me to guide these families to a better path forward.

As a struggling single parent, I realize the importance of education. I am grateful to have received a recent scholarship and am currently attending Kapiʻolani Community College and studying elementary education. I still feel an enormous amount of pressure as a single mom, working and going to school. It’s definitely not easy, but I know it’s not impossible either. With ambition, hard work and perseverance, the future is bright for me, my girls and this community I consider home.

If you are interested in making a difference in communities in Hawaiʻi, PACT welcomes your participation in any of the following:

  • Serve lunch this summer at designated Summer Food Service Program sites
  • Participate in community clean-up projects
  • Contribute to a program that helps others in our community

Nannette Fritz is a program assistant at Parents And Children Together, a multi-faceted nonprofit providing early childhood education and social services to nurture the relationships that matter most for children and families in Hawaiʻi. Visit ParentsAndChildrenTogether.org or call 808-847-3285 for more information.