Iwalani Carroll-Vierra, in red plaid, posed in her Waianae home with members of her extended family, including partner Preston Marcellino, center, and her sister Kuuipo Carroll-Vierra, at right in light blue.

Iwalani Carroll-Vierra has many roles to fulfill: mother, daughter, sister, caregiver.

For much of this year, she was moving her family between various temporary housing units while also taking care of her partner, Preston Marcellino, 49, who has congestive heart failure, and her mother and sister, who also have health problems.

Marcellino’s heart condition almost took his life earlier this year, she said.

“(The doctors) were going to pull the plug,” she recalled. “And you know, I fight with the doctors. … And he came out. Today he’s home with me.”

While having Marcellino at home is a victory, he requires a wheelchair and uses a breathing apparatus.

“We just gotta try to find the help that we need because if anything happens to (him), you know, it’s just gonna be us,” said Carroll-­Vierra, 40, who is from Waianae. “My ultimate dream for this Christmas would to be more stable for my family and have one ramp for (Marcellino) for his wheelchair.”

The couple has 11 children between them, but only two live with them: Marcellino’s son, Marcus, 10, and their youngest, JustUs, 1.

Approximately 775 families are participating in Adopt A Family this year, and you can help by making a donation to the Good Neighbor Fund. To donate to the Carroll-Vierra/Marcellino family in particular, use the Family Code: KOM 30.

>> At the bank: Donations accepted at First Hawaiian Bank locations through Dec. 31.
>> Online: HelpingHandsHawaii.org and click on “donate now” button to make a gift via PayPal. Specify “Good Neighbor Fund.”
>> By mail: Send check payable to “Good Neighbor Fund” to Helping Hands Hawaii, 2100 N. Nimitz Highway, Honolulu, HI 96819. Attention: Good Neighbor Fund.
>> Donations of goods: Drop off at the address above.
>> Call: 440-3800

Carroll-Vierra considers Marcus her own and said he takes his father’s health issues hard.

“Him and his father are like two peas in a pod,” said Carroll-Vierra. “Sometimes my son, he gets real heartbroken when he sees his dad unresponsive or … cannot be a part of certain things and activities that he’s doing.”

The family of four, plus Carroll-Vierra’s mother and sister, moved into another temporary home in October. Because of their frequent moves, she said her biggest fear is not having a reliable housing situation for her family.

Last Christmas, they had just moved into a different temporary home.

“We didn’t have no furniture or anything but I was just happy that we had some place to live,” said Carroll-­Vierra, who wants the holidays to be better for her children this year.

“I don’t have much for my kids. But I try to tell them, you know, at least we have each other this year.”


Iwalani, 40, Preston, 49, sons Marcus, 10, JustUs, 1.

Wish list

>> Iwalani: Shirts/dresses (3X), pants (20), shoes (10-1/2), household items, toiletries, king-sized bed, couch.

>> Preston: Shirts (7X), pants (62-64), shoes (14W), six-drawer dresser, a wheelchair ramp or help building one.

>> Marcus: Shirts (10-12, youth large), pants (10-12, youth large), shoes (7.5), white football cleats (8 youth), seven-piece football girdle, 20-inch bike, backpack.

>> JustUs: Shirts (toddler size 5), pants (toddler size 5), shoes (baby size 8), size 6 diapers, baby powder, diaper wipes, light-up and/ or sing-along toys.

Importance of family

When she was younger, Carroll-Vierra said her friends and family would come together for Christmas, a tradition she would like to continue.

“No matter where you are, and no matter what you’re doing, there’s always someone out there that loves you,” she said.

As for anyone willing to help her family this year, “I would give them a lot of aloha. I’d let them know how much I’m thankful and grateful and appreciative for anything and everything that they ever helped and is helping with my family … . That’s everything I ever dreamed of and prayed for.”


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