Henry Ford once said, "Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success." Nothing could be closer to the truth, evidenced by the following groups of individuals, who, by working together, have created a lasting impact on their community.
Waste Not Want Not
It was an idea born out of common sense-and arguably, good taste. Several years ago, Suzanne and Jack Freitas began picking fruit from the orange, banana and lime trees in their backyard and taking them to the senior citizens at Hale Mahaolu in Kahului. It didn't take long for the couple to realize that it only made sense to see this concept ripen across the Valley Isle. Armed with only one pickup truck and a handful of volunteers, Waste Not Want Not officially blossomed in 2009, and today, the organization has harvested more than 150 tons of fresh fruit that would otherwise have gone to waste. Every week, a group of volunteer harvesters gathers excess fresh fruit from local farms, private residences, gardens and orchards, and delivers it to low-income community programs-programs that service those who cannot harvest or buy fresh fruit themselves.
The Waste Not Want Not Foundation is a nonprofit organization of community volunteer harvesters who gather excess fruit from all over Maui and deliver it to those who cannot harvest or buy it themselves.
Needless to say, there are many who are thrilled with the fruits of Jack and Suzanne's labor. "The most rewarding part of the day is helping distribute the fruit we have picked," said one Waste Not Want Not volunteer. "We have a real need on this island-this paradise of a place has people who can't afford or don't have access to fresh, nutritious fruit."
For more information about Waste Not Want Not, visit the group's Website at www.waste-not-want-not.org.
East Maui Animal Refuge (EMAR)
Perhaps best known as the "Boo Boo Zoo," the East Maui Animal Refuge (EMAR) is a refuge for injured and orphaned animals-and a place where humans can rediscover their connection to nature. Established in 1977 on a quiet, wooded, two-acre property in Ha'iku, EMAR is a no-kill, all volunteer-run, nonprofit rehabilitation sanctuary that houses and cares for hundreds of animals, ranging from small and delicate (birds and kittens) to large and sturdy (goats, horses and pot-bellied pigs). What is most remarkable about this place, though, is the peaceful coexistence among these animals (in fact, some would likely be adversaries in the wild), which is certainly a testament to the enchanting nature of EMAR.
"[EMAR], with utter generosity and unconditional love has been rescuing [the] furry or feathered animals of Maui that have been disabled, injured or mistreated by us humans," said Maui resident and EMAR volunteer Madir Scolpini. "We share this island, and the planet, with many other species; we humans have been the most aggressive and invasive of all, making life miserable or impossible to many other species. We owe them all we can to repair what we have done so far and support their well being as much as we can, it's their birthright as much as ours. EMAR is doing it!"
For more information, or to make a donation, visit the EMAR Website at www.booboozoo.org.
Nisei Veterans Memorial Center
Seventy years ago, a group of Japanese-American soldiers displayed extraordinary valor and patriotism, placing their lives on the line to defend their country. Today, their sacrifices have not been forgotten, thanks in part to the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center (NVMC), a nonprofit organization established in 1991 with a mission to-quite literally-build a lasting tribute to the Nisei veterans of World War II.
In order to honor the legacies of Maui's Nisei veterans and promote awareness of the history, values and culture of Japanese-American soldiers, the NVMC is currently constructing a "living memorial" on a six-acre campus located near Kahului Harbor. According to the NVMC Website, "Memorial centers are typically filled with marble and statuary. Ours is different. It is a living memorial that reflects the sentiment of many of our veterans: once you experience war-and death-you have a deeper appreciation of life."
The organization is currently seeking the remaining funds to complete its Education Center-the last and crowning piece of the memorial.
"I will always remember the joy expressed by the Nisei veterans in reuniting with each other once again, and was moved by their deep appreciation of the honor bestowed," said NVMC Board Member Brian Moto. "Most had traveled long distances to attend the ceremony, despite advanced age and, in some cases, disability. Many family members attended, and they were clearly proud of the wartime service of these men, who now join the ranks of George Washington, Neil Armstrong, the Tuskegee Airmen, and the Navajo Code Talkers as Gold Medal recipients."
To learn more about the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center, visit the organization's Website at www.nvmc.org.
East Maui Water Partnership
Beginning in 1991, the members of the East Maui Water Partnership (EMWP) embarked on a mission to protect 100,000 acres of watershed ecosystem-the largest source of surface water in the state. If that sounds like a big responsibility, well, you're right. The East Maui watershed, which extends from Kipahulu to Makawao, receives over 60 billion gallons of rain a year and is critical to Maui's present and future water supply. According to its Website, "(EMWP) is an environmental effort between federal, state and private landowners to preserve the native forest we and our partners want to ensure that Maui's residents have a clean source of water for domestic, commercial and agricultural uses for this and future generations. If you would like to get your feet wet, there are educational programs and activities, as well as volunteer opportunities."
Visit www.eastmauiwatershed.org for more information.
For the members of the Maui Chapter of Women in Renewable Energy (WiRE), "girls night out" has taken on a whole new meaning-technically speaking, of course.
The newly formed organization has attracted more than 80 talented members who have one thing in common: they are energized about working toward a Hawai'i powered by clean energy. Oh, and one other thing: they are all female.
The Maui Chapter of WiRE (there are two chapters currently operating on O'ahu) was established in September of this year, and it has since provided an open forum for sharing ideas and discussing a variety of topics. Without question, WiRE serves as proof that women are breaking new ground in the realm of renewable energy-a field in which they are often underrepresented.
For more information about the Maui Chapter of WiRE, contact Jennifer Chirico at the Sustainable Living Institute of Maui at (808) 984-3379 or visit hawaiiwire.org.