HUGS is able to provide programs and services free of charge – to the families we serve – thanks to the support of our generous donors.


The HUGS mission is to improve the quality of life for families as they face the emotional and financial hardships of caring for a seriously ill child.



Founded in 1982, HUGS was the concept of a small group of volunteers at Unity Church who recognized the many challenges and stressors that families with seriously ill children face. They dedicated themselves to establishing an agency that would provide support, compassion and aloha to keep these families together. Initially called the “Center,” it was renamed the Young People’s Support Center before becoming known as HUGS (Help Understanding & Group Support) in 1989. Since its inception, HUGS has continued to grow, helping thousands of seriously ill children and their families throughout Hawaii. It provides comprehensive, long-term services for families and their children (age birth to 21 years old) who suffer from a range of diverse life-threatening illnesses.



35 Years of Helping Hawaii’s Seriously Ill Children and Their Families


A small group of volunteers from Unity Church established an agency called the Young People’s Support Center, known as the “Center,” that would provide support, compassion and aloha to support families who are caring for a seriously ill child. Since the agency’s inception, programs and services are free to the families we serve.



HUGS becomes a partner agency of Aloha United Way.



Agency officially changes its name to HUGS (Help, Understanding & Group Support). The acronym HUGS was first mentioned by a HUGS parent.

HUGS holds its first annual Celebration of Life, to honor and remember children who have passed.



HUGS receives the Hekoa Award from the Pacific Foundation for Cancer Research.

HUGS opens a Respite Care Center at Kawaiahao Church, where children can get together and parents get a needed break. Respites are later held at the HUGS house.

HUGS assists 75 families.



HUGS moves to a Kakaako warehouse, converting it to temporary office spaces.



HUGS moves to its present home in Kaimuki, a State cottage that was occupied by Dr. Cecil Saunders, a Leahi Hospital physician, and his family in the 1920s.



The mission statement is revised: to improve the quality of life for families as they    face the emotional and financial hardships of caring for a seriously ill child.



HUGS assists 110 families statewide.



The Thomas family holds its first Surf4HUGS event for HUGS families where the waves wash their cares and stressors away for one day to enjoy surfing and riding in outrigger canoes.



Over the past 25 years, HUGS has helped to support more than 1,400 family members for an average of three years each.



First SibCamp held, a three-day camp exclusively for the siblings of HUGS children, where they meet other children who are struggling with similar situations.



Family Dinners and Respite Nights expand to West Oahu.



HUGS celebrates its 35th year, helping some 300 families with programs that include Family Dinners, Mom’s Nights, Dad’s Nights, Respite Nights, Hospital Visitation, and financial assistance with travel and funerals.