Thanks to Our Donors, Maui United Way’s Fire Response Is Making a Difference for Impacted Families
When catastrophic wildfires forced Maui residents from their longtime homes and into an unknown future in early August, Maui United Way’s local staff immediately transitioned to around-the-clock disaster response, leveraging our 75 years of community service on Maui.
Thanks to Maui United Way’s trusted network of local community nonprofits and the generous giving from local kamaʻaina and people around the world, our Maui Fire Disaster Relief Fund has allowed us to fast-track funds and make a difference for Maui’s fire survivors every day. Together, we have achieved significant milestones:
- Emergency Financial Assistance: Distributed more than $7.8 million to those who lost their home in the Lahaina and Kula fires.
- Grants to Grassroots Organizations: Provided more than $500,000 in grants to local grassroots organizations for immediate post-disaster support.
- Tools for School Drive: Provided school supplies for 410 keiki, ensuring they have the resources needed for their education.
- Holiday Toy Drive: Delivered gifts to 1,994 keiki, spreading joy and creating lasting memories during the festive season.
Your support has been instrumental in making these initiatives possible. We express our deepest appreciation for your commitment to the well-being of our community and your trust in Maui United Way. As we continue our journey, we invite you to consider sustaining your support for the betterment of Maui County.
MUW is working in close collaboration with state and county leaders, nonprofit organizations, and community members to get an understanding of needs not being met. With equity at the core of our work, we want to ensure every person is taken care of.
Funded 20 Local Nonprofits Doing Important Fire Relief Work
Maui United Way granted out close to $200,000 in its first funding phase to local nonprofits engaged in critical fire disaster relief work.
Our funded local nonprofit partners provide a wide spectrum of relief to survivors:
- Hale Mahaolu - $10,000.00
- Hui No Ke Ola Pono - $10,000.00
- NA HOALOHA-MAUI INTERFAITH VOLUNTEER CAREGIVERS - $10,000.00
- The Salvation Army-Maui Corps - $10,000.00
- American Red Cross (Maui) - $10,000.00
- Habitat For Humanity Maui, Inc. - $10,000.00
- Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers, Inc. - $10,000.00
- Maui Family Support Services, Inc. - $10,000.00
- COMMON GROUND COLLECTIVE - $10,000.00
- ARC OF MAUI COUNTY - $10,000.00
- Cajun Navy Ground Force - $10,000.00
- HAWAII PET NETWORK INC - $10,000.00
- J WALTER CAMERON CENTER - $9,300.00
- MAUI ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY INC - $10,000.00
- Spirit Horse Ranch - $10,000.00
- NA KEIKI O EMALIA - $10,000.00
- PACIFIC BIRTH COLLECTIVE LLC - $8,000.00
- Na Hale O Maui - $10,000.00
- Lahaina Arts Guild - $10,000.00
- Parents and Children Together - $10,000.00
Maui United Way’s local providers help to feed thousands of survivors with fresh produce and proteins from local growers and suppliers. With support from us and other organizations, Haiku’s Common Ground Collective has been providing between 8,000 to 10,000 meals daily, and Salvation Army-Maui Corps is working with partners to prepare more than 2,000 meals per day.
A homeless shelter in Lahaina burned down in the fires, and Maui United Way funds are helping Ka Hale A Ke Ola to shelter 70 adults and 38 children with clothing, household necessities, food, bus passes and more.
Maui Family Support Services’ Early Head Start building was destroyed in the fires, and MFSS is now using Maui United Way funds to relocate students and to provide tuition for children to learn at a new location. Additionally, they are providing gas cards to provide transportation between school and work, and to provide household essentials.
Na Keiki O Emalia is helping grieving children by providing services, books, toys and a child-friendly drop-in space, and will provide education and resources on helping children with grief. Pacific Birth Collective is providing Lomi & La’au Lapa'au services offered by cultural practitioners in Honokowai, which has become a hub for donations, distributions, and support for women, babies and families affected by the fire.
The human toll of the wildfires is almost unimaginable. Survivors need help with the trauma they’ve endured, and our partners are providing crisis counseling for survivors as well as first responders. The J Walter Cameron Center is hosting a group of therapists and counselors at a central location to assist in this need. Spirit Horse Ranch is making Trauma Informed Equine Therapy available in addition to other services.
Our island is diverse, and trust is an essential part of healing. Our fund supports Hui No Ke Ola Pono’s Native Hawaiian practitioners as they provide medical outreach, supplies, medicine, radios, batteries, and other essentials to impacted families who need medical assistance.
Some of Maui’s residents with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities live in group homes and were evacuated during the fires. We’re supporting ARC of Maui County’s 24/7 work to house disabled residents in a safe and clean environment and provide meals until they can return to their Lahaina group home.
The fires have left thousands of cats, dogs, rabbits, horses and other pets and livestock injured or displaced. Our partners at the Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation are providing food, medical supplies, veterinary care, and housing for these impacted animals.
Na Hoaloha-Maui Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers, is using your donation to provide transportation to essential services such as dialysis, chemotherapy, other doctors’ visits, grocery shopping and pharmacy pick-up for fire survivors who lost their vehicles, as well as checking in on older adults who don’t have transportation of their own.
Homeowners who have lost their homes are receiving additional support from our partner agency, Hale Mahaolu, which is helping them navigate the complex insurance and mortgage payment forbearance processes. Habitat for Humanity Maui is assisting fire survivors who have lost their homes and are being charged late fees on their mortgages on homes that have been lost in the fires. Good credit will be essential in rebuilding their lives.
Survivors need identification in order to prove eligibility and access the housing, health care, child care, and other services intended for them. Our partners, including Maui Economic Opportunity, are helping families replace documents lost during the fires such as IDs, drivers’ licenses and passports.
Emergency Financial Assistance for Adults in the Impacted Fire Zones: Just 10 days after the deadly fires in Lahaina, Maui United Way launched a one-time $1,000 financial assistance payment program for adult fire survivors living in the impacted fire zones in Lahaina and Kula, limited to $5,000 per household. To date, $7.8 million has been paid to over 7,800 fire survivors as the program nears completion.
Giving families the ability to choose what they purchase is empowering. Because Maui is one of the most culturally diverse places in the country, comfort food means different things to different people.
Funded 22 local Nonprofits Focusing Relief Efforts on Unmet Needs
After conducting a needs assessment, Maui United Way awarded grants in four critical focus areas, Keiki and young adults, Mental health, Stable housing, and Job training, education, and employment services
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Maui), Keiki Hub $10,000.00
Our mission at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Maui (BBBSM) is to build and support mentoring relationships to ignite the biggest possible futures for local youth. The Keiki Hub was established by BBBSM to provide a safe place and meaningful experiences for youth residing at Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center (KHAKO) and the Hale Makana neighborhood who were displaced from the KHAKO and Hale Makana west side sites because of the wildfires. BBBSM staff, interns and volunteers will meet with youth at the Keiki Hub to provide consistency and be positive role models. Youth will regain a sense of normalcy. The mentoring friendships will help them to become the best versions of themselves and embrace higher aspirations and hope for the future.
Hui No'eau, Maui Fire Relief $10,000.00
Hui No‘eau’s mission is to unlock creativity through exceptional visual arts education and to enhance this endeavor through the preservation of the historic Kaluanui Estate. Hui programs support the creative growth and well-being of over 20,000 people, including more than 6,000 keiki annually. Hui No‘eau believes in the immeasurable power of the arts to support well-being and restore a sense of normalcy following tragedy. Art helps people feel? less alone by providing an opportunity for shared experience and expression. Art teaches us to notice details, to find beauty where we may not have seen it before, and to connect with our community and ourselves. Hui No‘eau’s Art with Heart Program will provide uplifting arts enrichment activities for children ages 0-18 who were directly impacted by the fires. Programs will engage: 116 children in grades K-8 in Hawaii Technology Academy’s Lahaina cohort. 250 displaced children living in non-congregate shelters in Lahaina. 150 children at Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center’s (KHAKO) Wailuku Shelter, where many Lahaina families relocated after the fires. 200 children participating in a free community art event at the Hui.
Lahaina Arts Guild, We Make Art Happen! $10,000.00
Our We Make Art Happen! program is comprised of indoor art instruction, outdoor PaintOut painting, and two Summer Camps for the children. Last school year, we taught art and art history to 3,390 K-5 children in schools where there is no art instruction. Our cultural, gender and ethnic population is as diverse as Maui itself. We integrate Hawaiian history and cultural talk story whenever possible. Painting, drawing and other mediums are all taught by our experienced teachers, usually with the home room teacher present so lessons can be folded into other classroom cultural and scientific projects. For 30 plus years we have brought the arts to the Maui community changing the life direction of countless children. Schools like Sacred Hearts, Hana and Maui Prep have excellent art teachers, and we partner with them to hold a variety of events such as PaintOuts, Summer Camps and awards, but our primary target population is in the schools where art and music have all but vanished.
Maui Prepatory Academy, Maui Prep Disaster Relief $10,000.00
Maui Prep’s mission has always been centered around fostering holistic growth and providing innovative learning experiences. To uphold this commitment during these trying times, we have welcomed over 140 displaced students from the affected Lahaina schools into our school. Our goal is to keep Lahaina students in Lahaina. We believe that education is a beacon of hope, and every child deserves access to quality learning opportunities, regardless of circumstances. Allowing a child to attend Maui Prep gives them the opportunity to choose the course of their development, attend the college of their choice, and give back to their community. With the support of Maui United Way, we aim to support the individual basic needs and additional curriculum and classroom needs to support fire affected students and our teachers. We hope to achieve a sense of equal opportunity for every student, so that each one feels appropriately equipped to succeed and thrive.
Na Keiki O Emalia, Keiki Care and Grief Relief $10,000.00
Grief is challenging for everyone, but especially difficult for children who may not have the skills or experience to navigate the grief process without support. Na Keiki O Emalia offers grief support to keiki who have experienced the death of someone important to them and offers training and support to parents who are accompanying their keiki on their grief journey. Through this grant from Maui United Way, Na Keiki O Emalia will open a space on the Westside to conduct community grief support groups for children and their families who are grieving from the wildfire disaster. Grant funds will pay for program space and outreach to affected families. Na Keiki O Emalia will offer matching funds to furnish, set up and staff the space. Na Keiki O Emalia will offer the program space when unused by our program to aligned community organizations that serve affected families and children. This funding will increase the number of grief support programs to affected keiki, will increase grief awareness and outreach locally, and will involve local community members as trained grief support volunteers. This space is critical to effective & sustained grief support for those affected.
Pacific Birth Collective, Maui Fire Relief for Mothers, Babies, and 'Ohana $10,000.00
The "Maui Fire Relief for Mothers, Babies & `Ohana" program is a vital response to the Maui wildfires' impact on pregnant and postpartum individuals, families, and households. This program aims to enhance maternal and infant health outcomes through comprehensive prenatal and postpartum education, as well as access to essential supplies. By promoting birth equity, it ensures that all affected individuals have access to maternal and family support services, contributing to community resilience and well-being in the wildfire's aftermath. During the grant period, this initiative anticipates impacting between 100 to 1,000 lives, fostering positive maternal health, reducing disparities, and promoting birth equity through education, support, and community engagement. This program is more than just a response; it's a lifeline for mothers, babies, and families during a challenging time, embodying the spirit of community and resilience in the face of adversity.
Pacific Whale Foundation, Support for Keiki after the devastating fires in August $10,000.00
The devastating fires that ravaged Maui in August have led to thousands of keiki being displaced from their homes, losing their belongings, and mourning loved ones. It is unsurprising, then, that Maui keiki have also been experiencing increases in stress due to the severe changes to their normal routines and the loss of time spent learning with, and enjoying the company of, other keiki. Pacific Whale Foundation’s Ocean Camp not only provides an immersive study experience focused on the marine ecosystem, but is also giving children a moment of reprieve and relief from the stresses caused by the fires. Ocean Camp, which brings campers “eye to fin” with marine animals, is led by in-house education experts, and offers ocean-based experiences on ecotour vessels through PacWhale Eco Adventures. As the only program of its kind on Maui, Ocean Camp helps children build social and problem-solving skills by offering opportunities to be part of a supportive community and partaking in activities together.
The Lahaina Dojo of the HONOLULU KI SOCIETY, Lahaina Ki Aikido Replacement Equipment and Supplies $10,000.00
The Lahaina Ki Aikido was started in the late 1950s in the Lahaina Hongwanji Mission. It is open to everyone in Lahaina. Prior to the August 8th fire, keiki made up over 90% of our students. The program is staffed by dedicated volunteer black belt instructors, all with 16 or more years of experience. On August 8, 2023, the Lahaina Hongwanji Mission was lost, including the Lahaina Ki Aikido training space which included specialty training mats, training equipment and supplies, and irreplaceable memorabilia. We are eager to reestablish our training as a means to bring the community together and heal through practice and camaraderie. We train students to use mind and body in a unified manner, so they can create a happy, healthy, and productive life. Through training, we work with students to develop strong character and good habits in every aspect of their lives. Being strong in the dojo is just the start. We have always believed that when we maximize human potential, we help build a positive society.
Underdog Foundation, Gorilla Athletes $10,000.00
Gorilla Athletes is a beacon of hope and stability for youth aged 8-18 affected by the Lahaina and Kula wildfires, providing a secure environment to regain normalcy through quality athletic training and peer interaction. Led by Jojo Dickson, a former NFL player with extensive experience in strength and conditioning, the program focuses on holistic development, enhancing athletic performance, fostering community, and facilitating educational advancement. It uniquely addresses the needs of fire-affected youth by offering not only athletic development but also emotional and mental support, aiming to mitigate disparities and rebuild a sense of belonging. The program offers services such as athletic training, peer support, and scholarship opportunities through collaborations with colleges for combine events, providing expansive opportunities for participants to gain exposure and secure scholarships. By January 2024, we aim to serve 40 athletes, focusing on individualized needs and ensuring significant improvements in their chances of reaching college level by providing a supportive environment where they can channel their energy, learn discipline, and boost self-esteem.
Vernon Patao Mission, Maui Wildfire support for youth athletes $10,000.00
Physical activity can play a significant role in helping children cope with trauma and stress. Our program provides access to strength and agility training to the keiki affected by the disastrous wildfires in Lahaina. This not only helps build general physical preparedness but also rebuilds confidence in safe environment driven by values. By providing this program we can offer them the opportunity to engage in a positive and empowering activity that promotes their physical and mental well-being. Your contribution will make a meaningful difference in their lives and provide them with a sense of hope for the future. Any support you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Together, we can make a positive difference in the lives of these young survivors.
Village of Hope Maui, Fire Relief Journey Bags $10,000.00
Village of Hope Maui is committed to providing every displaced person, regardless of age, gender, and size, a Journey Bag full of essential goods to aid and encourage them in the aftermath of the Maui Wildfires.
Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui, Mental Health $10,000.00
The reason for this program is that the majority of the children we are now serving are coming from within our impoverished and low-income communities. They tend to be on governmental health care plans and are not only going to be put on long waiting lists to be able to receive the proper therapeutic care but also they are not giving an opportunity to choose their own therapist or have a therapist that focuses on childhood trauma. More often than not they are unable to emotionally connect with a assigned therapist that they feel comfortable enough to trust. Without being able to establish trust with their therapist it pretty much defeats any chances of the child to be able to begin the therapeutic part in their healing journey. One thing that the Friends focus on is the lack of specialized therapeutic resources available to the children suffering from trauma. Childhood trauma is the main focus of the therapist that we have. The Friends are always focused on what the most urgent needs our children are faced with within our community. One of the needs is to have consistency in their lives and having to meet with volunteers has already been proven to not be successfully working.
Haku Baldwin Center, Equine Resilience Program for Maui First Responders $10,000.00
Haku Baldwin Center is a nonprofit organization operating from Maui's premier equestrian facility, providing equine-assisted services to the Maui community for more than 30 years. Founder, Harriet 'Haku' Baldwin, was a champion of excellence in education and the accessibility of therapeutic services for those most in need. Current programming includes therapeutic/adaptive riding, equine-assisted learning, and equine-assisted psychotherapy. The benefits are countless, with survey data showing remarkable improvements in the physical, cognitive and/or emotional health and well-being of program participants. HBC prioritizes serving youth and adults with diverse needs, military veterans and, most recently, first responders. In September 2023, HBC opened a free mental health program for first responders impacted by the wildfires. The experienced team includes licensed, multi-credentialed professionals certified by EAGALA and PATH Intl., two of the leading organizations governing therapy and non-therapy equine-assisted services in the United States. HBC has a bright future as it continues to adapt, support, and educate the community.
Mental Health Kokua (Maui), Residential and Psycho-social Rehabilitation Services $10,000.00
Mental Health Kokua proposes 1-month homeless stabilization housing for 4-adults >18 years old, diagnosed with serious mental illness (SMI), e.g., schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, and PTSD. MHK proposes adding 4-psychiatric stabilization beds in Wailuku for homeless adults with SMI, to stabilize for 1-month while triaging supportive housing. MHK’s proposed additional 4-stabilization SMI beds benefit from MHK’s economy of scale, adding to the existing MHK beds that stabilize 4-unduplicated people for 1-month. MHK will use Maui United Way funds for bed-day rate of $60/day, cover unpaid psychiatric services, to augment food budget, and purchase clothing for homeless adults. MHK’s unique niche is SMI homeless services, who without care will remain untreated, impacting MPD and emergency room several times per week. MHK collaborates with referrals of homeless from Maui Police Dept., Family Life Center, Mana Recovery, Project Vision, Aloha House, and Ka Hale A Ke Ola. MHK’s Safe Haven uses Maui Food Bank to offset food expenses for 3 meals/day 365 days/year. MHK coordinates care with the Maui Homeless Alliance with HMIS and CES. Average cost/person is $2,500.
Parents And Children Together, Maui ISS $10,000.00
PACT will offer comprehensive wellness checks and support to those affected by the devastating fires in Maui. The goal is to provide essential aid and enhance mental health and wellness, focusing on immediate relief and long-term recovery. We will prioritize families directly impacted by the fires, with special attention to caregivers with children, single-parent households, low- income families, children with health challenges, and those with limited support networks. In addition to assessments, a team of professionals with the DOH will pay wellness visits to families, at the families’ convenience, to offer a range of services and appropriate referrals, including counseling and support groups. We will coordinate with community hubs, the DOE, Second Circuit Court, DHS, County of Maui, MUW, and MCCC, and other non-profits to ensure comprehensive support. PACT is committed to providing vital support to Maui families affected by the fires. With a strong history, experienced team, and a focus on collaboration and quality, we aim to enhance the wellness of those impacted and contribute to the resilience of the Maui community.
Players Philanthropy Fund, The Spirit Horse Ranch $10,000.00
The Spirit Horse Ranch is a nonprofit organization that provides trauma-informed care through equine therapy services. Since August 11, the organization has provided free equine therapy sessions with its 15 horses to more than 150 people, including first responders and others impacted by the fires. Its current partners include Maui Youth and Family Services, Friends of the Children’s Justice Center, Maui United Way, Hale Pono, the Department of Education, and the Maui Police Department juvenile program. We have and continue to hire and train facilitators, the funds would greatly help us provide this much need care to our community.
Habitat For Humanity Maui, Inc., Staff preparation/Onboarding/Technology $10,000.00
By January 2024, the program will significantly increase staff capacity, enhance technical infrastructure, and prioritize safety training. This will enable the organization to respond effectively to disasters, ensuring the safety and well-being of both staff and beneficiaries. The program leverages partnerships with Habitat for Humanity International, private funders, and individual donors, enhancing its capacity to respond effectively to disasters. Future collaboration opportunities with local government agencies, emergency response organizations, and community-based groups are identified to strengthen disaster preparedness and response efforts. In summary, the "Habitat Maui Disaster Preparedness and Rebuilding Initiative" is a well-conceived program that not only addresses critical disaster response needs but also highlights its unique focus on underserved populations. By leveraging technology, partnerships, and community engagement, it is poised to make a significant impact in the disaster-prone area of Lahaina, Maui, and ensure the community's resilience in the face of adversity.
Hale Mahaolu, Homeownership & Housing Counseling Program $10,000.00
Hale Mahaolu, a private non-profit corporation, was organized in 1967 and has experiences as a sponsor, developer, owner and manager of 16 properties (over 1,200 units) in Maui County (Lanai and Molokai included). The corporation's mission is to create and manage vibrant, quality, affordable rental communities and provide supportive programs and services for seniors, families and individuals. Hale Mahaolu has also been a HUD-Approved Comprehensive Housing Counseling Agency for the State of Hawaii since October 1989 (Homeownership/Housing Counseling Program). We provide self-paced and virtual homebuyer education classes and individualized counseling sessions focusing on foreclosure, pre/post-purchase, non-delinquency, and financial literacy. In 2016, HUD established the Housing Counseling New Certification Requirements Final Rule which ensures that housing counselors are knowledgeable and meet specific requirements. All counselors within Hale Mahaolu's Homeownership/Housing Counseling Program have earned certification as of 2020.
Na Hale O Maui, Stable Housing for Lahaina families $10,000.00
The Maui United Way grant may be modest in size, especially when divided between 15 families, & represents a beacon of hope for the affected families as they work to rebuild their lives and homes. The community’s commitment to providing emergency assistance, including temporary housing and essential supplies, is crucial in helping our families get back on their feet. Collaboration with other nonprofit organizations, for-profit entities, and government agencies is the smart & effective way to addressing the diverse needs of the community. By working together, we will leverage resources, expertise, and networks to provide comprehensive support to the Maui 'ohana and facilitate a faster recovery process. It's reassuring to witness the commitment to our families that can make a real difference in their lives. The heartfelt outpouring of community support & resilience is both tested and strengthened in times of adversity when organizations and individuals come together to support one another. We truly appreciate the efforts and support of Maui United Way to help these families rebuild their lives & thrive once again.
J WALTER CAMERON CENTER, Cameron Center Laptop Relief Program $10,000.00
The Maui Laptop Relief Program, initiated by the J Walter Cameron Center in response to the devastating wildfires on Maui, is dedicated to bridging the digital divide for disaster survivors. This program focuses on providing refurbished laptops to individuals and families who have been displaced or affected by the wildfires. Through a strategic partnership with various organizations, including resident agencies and local nonprofits, the program facilitates the distribution of laptops, fostering digital literacy, access to essential resources, job opportunities, and support services. Impact and Outcomes: Bridging the Digital Divide: The program aims to reduce disparities in technology access within the community. Economic Empowerment: By providing laptops and job-seeking support, it empowers individuals to secure employment opportunities. Community Resilience: Enhanced digital connectivity and access to resources strengthen the community's resilience in the face of adversity. The Maui Laptop Relief Program represents a critical response to a community in need, striving to empower survivors, promote economic stability, and reduce the digital divide created by the wildfires.
KA LIMA O MAUI LTD, Employment services $10,000.00
Ka Lima O Maui has a long history of providing services to persons with disabilities in Maui County. Those services include career education, supported employment, job placement in the community, personal development training, recreation and community integration. Ka Lima O Maui programs have a profound positive impact on clients’ lives daily. This project benefits our community in 2 direct ways. First, it provides an opportunity for adults with a disability to earn income, pay taxes and become consumers. All these things are necessary for assisting in rebuilding our economy. Second, it reverses the usual negative impact many adults with disabilities have on the economy, as this population tends to have some of the highest unemployment rates. Additionally, disabled workers whom are employed tend to need far fewer community services than those who are not, resulting in fewer taxpayer dollars needed to fund other programs. With the recent tragedy not only displacing adults with disabilities but also reducing their opportunities to earn an income, our employment opportunities have never been more critical to the recovery of our community.
Maui Family Support Services, Inc., Quality Care for Hawaiian Keiki $10,000.00
Maui Family Support Services, Inc. will use funds to support parents in seeking/maintaining employment, job training, or education by providing childcare subsidy assistance for parents to work/train or attend school. Families may have lost their previous provider due to the fire, relocated due to the fire, or lost their West side job due to their job being destroyed or otherwise affected by the fire. Subsidy assistance will be used to cover childcare tuition costs in full or in part at licensed childcare providers for children ages zero to five years old. Licensed childcare costs range from $800 to $1,500 per child based on the type of childcare. Assistance will be used to maintain childcare enrollment for October 2023 – January 2024, and families will receive resource information in identifying and applying for other childcare subsidy assistance for longer-term support.