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Musical Kōkua for Keiki

A jazzy fundraiser for Maui’s special families.

February 25, 2010
Barry Sultanoff

This year there’s a new twist: the concert will benefit Keiki Kōkua, Maui County’s grassroots organization that assists adoptive and foster families. A portion of the profits from the concert will go directly to Keiki Kōkua. The Grand Wailea Resort and Spa, in harmony with this cultural and humanitarian initiative, will be the event’s main sponsor.

“In conjunction with the Benoit Family Concert this year, we wanted to give back to our wonderful community by benefiting a local charity,” said Angela, the group’s multi-talented vocalist. “Keiki Kōkua is a Maui County organization that we deeply admire for the magnificent and devoted way that it helps families with children in foster and adoptive care. We’ll be spotlighting this organization in all of our press releases to help bring the public a fuller awareness of all their good works.”

Keiki Kōkua Executive Director Alda St. James and her husband, Jim, seasoned veterans of Hawai‘i’s social services, founded the organization in 2005.

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Alda St. James and her husband founded Keiki Kōkua to assist families with children in foster and adoptive care.

“It was a calling for us,” said Jim. “We recognized the need. It was urgent, and we simply had to fill it.”

In its five years of operation, the organization has thrived under Alda’s direction. It has broadened its outreach, and many new volunteers have come aboard.

This week, in fact, marks the first anniversary of the opening of the Keiki Kōkua Thrift Store in the Ha‘ikū Marketplace. In celebration of the store’s successful fledgling year, there’s a special sale happening this week that ends on Friday, Feb. 26.

“We’ve been gratified by our devoted customers, and there are so many wonderful stories we can share with our donors,” said Rosemary Widener, the thrift store’s manager. “The community has responded so magnificently with its donated items that we’ve felt nearly overwhelmed at times—of course, in a good way and with immense gratitude!”

Keiki Kōkua was the first nonprofit on Maui to create the concept of a donation store—a place where people could come to shop and donate, knowing that they’re supporting a good cause. In Keiki Kōkua’s case, the specific intention is to provide a practical resource for foster children, youth, and the families who raise them on Maui.

“The public response to this cause has been phenomenal,” said Alda. “Maui people appreciate what we do and they realize that they, as a community, have a stake in supporting these kids, our most vulnerable children.”

Without a doubt, foster parents are among the kindest, most selfless people to be found anywhere, ready to take “someone else’s child” into their home and raise them as if they were their own. But while the cost of living spirals upward, stipends that foster parents receive haven’t changed in the last 20 years. Foster families need our support.

Consequently, the Keiki Kōkua Thrift Store’s main mission is to provide a good chunk of the additional help that these families need, primarily through the funds received from shoppers. And it offers a 30 percent discount to foster parents anytime they shop at the store.

Keiki Kōkua’s Website,, explains in detail the organization’s mission and services, which include free consultation and referral services, respite care, pro bono legal assistance, and a free listing of other services, including children’s hair cuts, tutoring, music lessons and computer training.

Along with their creature needs, the children’s evolving self-esteem is also seen as tantamount. When kids relocate on Maui or travel to other islands, they typically have nothing more than plastic trash bags in which to carry their meager belongings. Recognizing the need, Keiki Kōkua is now providing free luggage and backpacks so that these children can travel with dignity.

Every summer, the organization hosts an annual, fun-filled day at Baldwin Beach for Maui’s caregivers, their “keiki in care,” and their families. And at Christmastime, they give Maui’s foster teens their own special event at the Grand Wailea Resort and Spa.

“An Evening With David Benoit & Family II” will be held at the Castle Theater on Saturday, April 10, at 7 p.m. Performing with David Benoit will be Dean Taba on bass, Noel Okimoto on drums and David Choy on sax. Maui’s own Phil & Angela Benoit will open the show with their band—Marcus Johnson on bass, Paul Marchetti on drums and surprise guests. Brothers Phil and David Benoit will perform together during the main part of the concert.



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