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Building Rainbows: Auntie Audrey’s Story

Hawaii Foodbank Volunteer Auntie Audrey

More commonly known as “Auntie Audrey,” Audrey Wong has been a face of hope in Waimānalo for many years.

Auntie Aundrey’s story with Hawaii Foodbank began more than two decades ago when a friend invited her to help families in need at a nearby elementary school.

“When I got there, I saw all of these big trucks with food,” she fondly recalls. “That was the first time I ever saw a Hawaii Foodbank truck, and I could see they were really helping others. I had no idea how much our community was impacted — how many families were struggling and not having enough to eat. That made me say, ‘I want to do all I can, too.’”

Seeing those families struck a chord in Auntie Audrey’s heart, and she has never stopped giving back. You will find Auntie Audrey and an army of volunteers from Dynamic Compassion in Action every first and third Monday of the month at Waimānalo District Park. Along with big smiles and warm hearts, the group distributes food to more than 100 families.

Her home since 1949, Waimānalo has also helped Auntie Aundrey let go of past burdens of her own. It’s why she works with an open heart and mind. She understands hunger has no boundaries.

I remember going to the grocery store with my pennies, nickels and dimes — trying to buy a single can of Carnation cream, so my baby could have his milk.

— Auntie Audrey, Hawaii Foodbank Volunteer

“When I first got married, we encountered very hard times. My husband became unemployed. We didn’t want our parents to know we were struggling, so we ended up living in our car with our first child,” she says with tears her eyes. “I remember going to the grocery store with my pennies, nickels and dimes — trying to buy a single can of Carnation cream, so my baby could have his milk.”

The young couple lived in their car for three months. They eventually found their way, thanks to the help of strangers.

“I will never forget that time in my life,” she reflects back. “I had complete strangers give us food. It reminded me of what my
father taught us as children. He taught us to love people — not for what they look like or what they have. Just love the
person.”

At 71, she continues to share that sentiment with others. She sees it as an investment in healing her community. Just as those strangers helped her all those years ago, she now creates second chances for others — building relationships and breaking down barriers.

Hawaii Foodbank Volunteer Auntie Audrey
Hawaii Foodbank Volunteer Auntie Audrey

Auntie Audrey visits Hawaii Foodbank’s warehouse every week to pick up food for her community. She never fails to brighten the day of those she encounters along the way, including staff members like Jared Kawatani, community program coordinator.

“I don’t always know their names, and they may not know mine — and that is okay. I still always smile and say, ‘I’ll see you next week.’ It becomes more than just food; it’s about being a friend to them. It is not my job to judge others,” she explains. “That’s why I see a rainbow when I look at someone in need. I see the heart of the person. It is important to build friendships. It is a bridge to their hearts.”

That’s why I see a rainbow when I look at someone in need. I see the heart of the person. It is important to build friendships. It is a bridge to their hearts.

— Auntie Audrey, Hawaii Foodbank Volunteer

Auntie Audrey continues to build friendships and so much more. She is family for her community. She is a pillar of trust, hope and inspiration. Now, everyone affectionately calls her “Auntie” — something she cherishes immensely.

“I treasure that because it says they trust me,” she says with a smile. “I know hardship can happen to anyone at any time. The problems families face now are much more difficult than 20 years ago. Thankfully, we have Hawaii Foodbank who helps us feed our families, friends, keiki and kūpuna. Hawaii Foodbank helps families survive, and I am grateful for that.”

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