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Hui of the Year

The Maui Weekly acknowledges the commitment and hard work of a few of the many wonderful local organizations that are vitalto our community.

December 30, 2010
Trisha Smith

Striving to keep Maui a “hunger-free zone,” the grassroots Feed My Sheep (FMS) organization effectively provides food to more than 9,500 at the poverty level, with distributions held weekly in Wailuku, Kīhei, Lahaina, Honokōwai, Ha‘ikū and Hāna.

“We are an organization of people in the community coming together to feed the hungry in body, mind and spirit…,” said Joyce Kawakami, founder and full-time volunteer CEO and executive director of FMS, which is named after the request Jesus made to his disciples to care for his followers.

Kawakami created FMS in 1999 after she began delivering nutritious groceries to teens in need within her youth group and realized how problematic and widespread hunger had become. She bought a pickup truck and handed out goods directly to community members. Since then, this mobile distribution program has expanded to include her staff of five, over 350 volunteers and seven large delivery trucks that provide donations from sources like the Maui Food Bank, local farmers, churches and businesses.

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Grassroots organization Feed My Sheep is working hard to make sure no one on Maui goes hungry. The small nonprofit provides essential groceries every week at six locations across the isle, effectively distributing food to more than 9,500 residents.

Kawakami said the “concept is simple,” asserting no one has to go hungry on Maui if essential groceries are accessible and deliverable.

FMS now holds an annual “Stomp Out Hunger” fundraiser and takes pride in its dedication to weekly distributions, which Kawakami said inspires confidence in their reliability. “Consistency is key to the success of our mission,” she said.

A collapsed tree at headquarters damaged three of its seven trucks in November, yet the resilient group has managed to fulfill its mission. But it’s been difficult with fewer vehicles, especially during its busiest season. Donations are being accepted at feedmysheepmaui.com/.

“Recognizing that hunger is often a result of a larger, even more challenging personal situation, FMS also offers a listening ear and prayer to reassure friends that in their time of need, they can receive help and love without judgement,” Kawakami said.

Read Aloud America

Kids today are driven to distraction with mindless television programming, video games and the Internet. Many have not yet learned to appreciate books and the simple pleasure of reading, or being read to.

Thankfully, parents, teachers and volunteers across Hawai‘i are motivating keiki to turn the page with important programs such as Read Aloud America (RAA).

Nonprofit organization RAA “promotes literacy, encourages a love of reading in adults and children, and increases children’s prospects for success in school and life.”

Former businessman Jed Gaines, who is dyslexic, founded the program in Hawai‘i in 1995 after becoming a father and has devoted his life to this mission.

Its signature program, the Read Aloud Program (RAP), strives to make reading fun, and brings keiki and families together for “RAP Sessions” in which parents, relatives, teachers and caregivers gather in the evening several times throughout the school year to listen to volunteer presenters read stories and share tips.

Lovable local star George Kahumoku, Jr. was a guest reader recently, integrating the beauty of music and literacy.

For a small fee, sessions including meals and book prizes are held at host schools. The state Department of Human Services funds most of RAP’s expenses, along with smaller grants and local donations.

Since RAA launched its Maui program in January 2009, Larry and Joanne Laird, and members of Maui’s Rotary clubs, have served as volunteers and discovered how it helps bond families and build communities of “lifetime readers.”

With nearly 70 years of teaching experience between them, the retired Lairds opened a new chapter, with Larry now serving as the RAA-Maui site coordinator and Joanne as assistant training director.

Of the five states that participate, Hawai‘i is ahead of the class with attendance figures at the end of May 2010 revealing programs have served over 217,000.

RAA now has three full-time offices throughout the state: O‘ahu, Maui and Hawai‘i Island. Maui’s program is now in “full swing,” run by the energetic Lairds and Program Assistant Krystle Marcellus.

Call 856-3100 and learn more about the program and its Reading is Fundamental campaign at www.readaloudamerica.org.

E-Cycling

According to the Maui County Environmental Management Department, our landfill is the recipient of almost 1,000,000 pounds of waste per day. At that rate, it could reach capacity in 2026. But many creative recycling efforts aim to lower statistics such as this while providing educational programs.

Including our Neighbor Islands, the Maui County Electronics Recycling Program (called “E-Cycling”) has diverted over 1,450 tons (2,876,000 pounds) of electronics from landfills since initiated in 2000. According to Habitat for Humanity E-Cycling Administrator Marty McMahon, more than 820 volunteers and 185 workers have helped ecycle since it began.

There were only two electronic recycling days each year up until early 2009, when the county-funded program (via HFH) began running twice weekly. The program accepts items with electronic circuit boards—computers and televisions—and nearly anything attached to them, as well as audio, phone and most office equipment.

“We accept everything with an electronic circuit board except household appliances like microwaves,” said McMahon.

Unusable items are shipped to the Mainland for recycling—the ecycling program guarantees responsible recycling of electronics byproducts.

He said within FY 2010, the poundage of materials processed by the program increased by nearly 50 percent.

“In calendar year 2010, we are on track to process about 1,000,000 pounds,” he said.

More than 200 working computer systems, and more than 1,600 repaired items—all developed at no cost to the county—were distributed to local nonprofits, schools, churches and individuals in 2010.

The program also offers computer classes. In addition, 50 students from high schools across the isle and UH Maui College have built their own systems and carried them home, said McMahon.

The county is also now running an ongoing collection of electronic waste at the landfill on Moloka‘i, and at least one collection is held annually on Lāna‘i.

The collection site on Maui, which recently moved to 910 Lower Main St. near Homemaid Bakery, is open Saturdays and Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (No materials are to be dumped when the program’s fences are closed.)

Call 573-4018 and visit www.habitat-maui.org/ecycling.shtml to learn more.

Kīhei Community Keiki Club

“We can do it, Hawai‘i,” declared a resolute group of parent, teacher and community volunteers of South Maui known as the Kīhei Community Keiki Club (KCKC) when the governor and state education officials announced last school year they “couldn’t.”

In the fall of 2009, “Furlough Fridays” (FF) left island schools with the least amount of instructional time in the country, and teachers struggling with less preparation, as parents scrambled to locate the funds and the means to make sure their keiki were in a safe environment each FF.

Instead of complaining, Bridget Bunting—a South Maui mother of four and the president of the Kīhei Elementary PTA at that time—expanded on an idea she received from Maui resident Marc Hodges.

“In order to make a difference, we need to show our children how important their education is and turn our frustration into action,” Bunting told the Maui Weekly last January.

She joined forces with Kīhei Elementary Principal Alvin Shima, parents, musicians, artists and numerous community volunteers to form KCKC, an all-volunteer, community-based program for elementary school-children of South Maui. KCKC held free enrichment programs each FF from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Kīhei Elementary School’s cafeteria/auditorium.

“The word spread—quickly,” said volunteer aura Markze. “Before she knew it, Bridget had an outpouring of community support.”

The innovative KCKC was based on the principle that youth learn better by doing and applying knowledge to real life, and the program enriched the keiki’s learning experiences through music and arts, science, history and physical activities.

Bunting and a gracious volunteer staff opened up 17 times during the 2009-10 school year, hosting an average of 35 kids each FF.

Thanks to the courageous and creative efforts of the small group of community members of KCKC, parents and guardians of those kids “were able to work and continue to provide for their families, knowing their children were enjoying a safe and active curriculum,” said Markze.

Surfrider Foundation Maui

Whether through cooperative beach clean-ups, outreach programs with island youth or joining hands in defiance of nearshore drilling, grassroots nonprofits like Surfrider Foundation, Maui Chapter continue to make strides in, and out, of the water in their mission to preserve our precious ocean environment.

Maui’s progressive group continually puts together events dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our oceans, waves and beaches through CARE (Conservation, Activism, Research and Education). Volunteers and committee members work collaboratively within the community to keep our beaches and coastal waters clean; preserve beach access for the public; and protect the isle’s recreational and cultural sites.

Surfrider Maui kept busy in 2010 and resumed its ongoing restoration of the native ecosystem at North Shore’s beloved surfing and windsurfing beach park, Ho‘okipa, and continued its participation with the important “cause campaign,” Rise Above Plastics.

The chapter teamed up with Community Work Day for five town clean-ups—along with 21 smaller clean-ups across the isle—this fall as a part of the “Get the Drift and Bag It” campaign of Keep America Beautiful, in association with the International Coastal Clean Up. These efforts helped launch the water enthusiasts network, Positive H2O, with the 1st Annual North Shore Clean Up, which collected over 3,400 pounds of trash.

In conjunction with local sailing charter company, Trilogy Excursions, Surfrider Maui participated in Blue ‘Āina, a beach and reef clean-up campaign. Organizing and hosting a reef cleanup each month, they cleaned up 12 surf locales and raised awareness.

The group will continue its participation in the Blue ‘Āina Campaign in 2011, said Surfrider Maui Chairman Tim Lara.

Lara said the cleanup on International Surf Day (June 20) at Kahului Harbor was another big success in 2010, as volunteers picked up 1,000 cigarette butts and 1,000 pieces of rubbish. The following week, Surfrider chapters across the state joined hands with friends and neighbors as part of the “Hands Across the Sand” event to protest drilling for oil in coastal waters.

 
 

 

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