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A Community Investment

A little can go a long way.

October 29, 2009
Trisha Smith · Staff Writer/Office Admin.

Like Houston, can Maui’s centers make a comeback in today’s economy?

Our island needs to hold fast to organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Maui, Pā‘ia Youth & Cultural Center and Kīhei Youth Center (KYC), which provide opportunities and unique experiences keiki can’t get at school or home.

Keiki experience an “extension of education” and interact socially without technological temptations.

Article Photos

Trisha Smith
Staff Writer/Office Admin

Shortly after I moved to Maui, I had the pleasure of learning more about KYC. Last year, the club celebrated 25 years of operation offering healthy and supervised activities and programs that embody Native Hawaiian values in a safe haven for keiki.

But Executive Director Lehua Huddlestone-Hafoka said successful fundraising has been difficult recently.

This resilient center—which serves as many as 400 yearly between the ages of 8 and 18—has been “hit hard.” Although Lehua is optimistic, she’s “worried about funding.”

This fiscal year’s county grant was $178,000, a 3.2 percent decline, and although other grants are coming in, it’s tough. And now they need to accommodate Furlough Fridays, too.

Homework assistance programs such as MERITS (Math English Resources Important to Success) are suffering.

Unfortunately, programs like these are in jeopardy, and on their “last pennies,” according to Lehua. The instructed arts program has already been cut.

KYC is seeking “perspective partnerships,” and they have applied for a large grant from Office of Hawaiian Affairs. They remain hopeful.

Melaine Alapai, KYC program director, said she would “like to see a little more community investment. Even if you don’t have kids, you can help,” she said.

How about $5 or $10? You would be surprised how far places like KYC can stretch it. Any volunteer time you can spare is precious as well.

“Investing in the community, its keiki, is investing in the future,” said Melaine.

Thanks to the hard work of Rotary Club of Kīhei-Wailea (RCKW) President Mark Middleton and others, keiki can “get on board” with JEEP (Job Exposure Education Program), which is partnering with KYC and others to expose keiki to real-life jobs. This gives them the opportunity to take ownership of their future.

Join RCKW and others for the annual fundraiser to support local youth through celebration called “Best of Maui Nui” and “Na ‘Opio Makahiki” on Sunday, Dec. 6, upon the Mākena Beach and Golf Resort Lū‘au Grounds.

As the KYC motto states: “children first… today… tomorrow… forever.”



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