Last week I was invited to attend a meeting of the Maui County Non Profit Directors Association, where of course the response effort to the Maui wildfire crisis was top of mind for everyone.  I was overwhelmed with emotion to hear the stories of struggle, but uplifted by the work of this group. MCNPDA members reported to each other about addressing the myriad of  mental health needs, rental assistance, support for the jobless, document retention for immigrants, temporary and permanent housing, case management for all ages, needle exchange and NARCAN distribution in the shelters, as well as healing and wellness interventions like mediation trainings, animal and music therapy.  

From where we sit in Honolulu, we’ve always looked admiringly upon this group for its ability to remain together for decades despite changing leadership at member organizations and for its self organization, shared leadership, culture of collegiality and comradery, and holding steadfast to the common mission to serve Maui. In times like this, the already developed collaborative muscle of this group makes it response-ready for slippahs on the ground.  And it is proving to be just that.  

So much of what we hear from people closer to this crisis is that they lack one organizing entity on Maui that can coordinate action from all sectors – government, corporate, nonprofit and informal community stakeholders, much in the way that MCNPDA does for Maui nonprofits.  In a hub and node approach, MCNPDA is leading in some respects and following the lead of other entities in other aspects, but remains on hand as a vital intermediary to represent some of the nonprofit community work on Maui. It speaks to the important role that all intermediaries play in times of disaster. 

In the meantime, Funder Hui, an organization that HANO helped form in the pandemic, has emerged as a virtual safe space for all stakeholders to share critical info with each other during its weekly Friday morning calls.  Take a listen to past calls to get a sense of whatʻs happening on the ground.  During these calls HANO staff have been blown away hearing about the rapid response, the resilience, the kākou and the ultimate humanity demonstrated by community – those aunties and uncles that are just doing whatever it takes to mālama Lāhainā.  These stories of slippahs on the ground give us hope that Lāhainā will rise again in a pono way. 

One way that HANO is assisting in this effort is by partnering to collect data that highlights the critical needs on Maui to funders, policy makers, and nonprofits around the state.  If you are a Maui organization*, we’re asking for your kōkua to complete this short (15 question) survey to help HANO and Maui United Way understand the impact of the wildfires on your organization, your work and your people; where the gaps in resources are; and how we can best support you. Please complete the survey by Thursday, October 5th. 

*Although HANO’s focus is nonprofits, other types of organizations on Maui are encouraged to fill out the survey and share their information and experiences to help us understand the broader community and economic context.

While our hearts are heavy and our minds are working to help find solutions, we are heartened by the work of our community based nonprofit organizations, demonstrating yet again their reliability and effectiveness at meeting community needs even in the most dire times. 

Mālama pono, 


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