The past year has been full of highs and lows, but there’s been one constant: Maui residents stepping up to help one another and proving that difficult times can bring out the best in a community.
Case in point: The Realtors Association of Maui (RAM) members who have helped distribute thousands of boxes of food to residents in need at the Bayanihan food distributions at the Binhi at Ani Filipino Community Center in Kahului. Those members include Sandy Daniells, Gina Duncan and Gloria Ezera of Fine Island Properties, Lisa Puaa of Southwest Funding, Melissa Salvador of Old Republic Title and Bruce McDonald and Vanessa Joy Baldos-Domingo of Coldwell Banker Island Properties. Fine Island Properties is one of the financial sponsors of the event.
Over the past few months, the RAM members have volunteered alongside elected officials, students and Army National Guard service members at the community center. There, they fill boxes with fresh produce, canned soups, snacks and other items, then distribute them drive-thru style to recipients who safely wait inside their vehicles. The turnout is always high, but even so, the events run like a well-oiled machine.
To say that Binhi at Ani’s Bayanihan food distributions have made an impact would be an understatement. Since the events began last spring, volunteers have packed and distributed nearly 7,000 boxes of food to residents in need.
Duncan and her Fine Island Properties colleagues have participated in five of the nine food distributions so far. She says each event has been a deeply rewarding experience. “Serving the Central Maui community with the food drives has been very rewarding,” she said. “It has introduced me to an amazing group of dedicated folks at the Binhi at Ani. Without their vision and many helping hands, this would not have been possible. We were a very small part of this group that included also help from our National Guard volunteers, the mayor and many of our elected officials, as well as teens from Kamehameha Schools. I was honored to be included to assist.”
Duncan also serves on the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) Aloha Chapter board of directors. She and her fellow AREAA Aloha Chapter members—including Ezera, Daniells, McDonald and Salvador—volunteered during Binhi at Ani’s Thanksgiving Bayanihan event in November. AREAA is a nonprofit professional trade organization that promotes sustainable homeownership opportunities in Asian American and Pacific Islander communities nationwide; its members are housing and real estate professionals from different cultural backgrounds. AREAA’s Aloha Chapter has held homeownership seminars at the Binhi at Ani Filipino Community Center and hopes to host an in-person seminar sometime this year.
On Sunday, Feb. 14, the Binhi at Ani Filipino Community Center launched the “Bayanihan Feeding Program” in partnership with Maui Food Bank. The brand-new program provides hundreds of hot plate lunches to the residents of Hale Mahaolu in Kahului and Wailuku on Sundays.
Duncan signed up to deliver the meals and encourages others to consider volunteering—or to support Binhi at Ani or the Maui Food Bank in any way they can. “No one should go hungry in our community, yet we know they do,” Duncan said. “Binhi at Ani and the Maui Food Bank need our help. Some folks are still not back to work or are working on a part-time basis. The need is great out there so I’m hoping some other Realtor friends will join us and volunteer to make a difference.”
Food banks across the country continue to face an unprecedented demand for resources and the Maui Food Bank is no exception. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit was serving 10,000 food-insecure people countywide every month. That number has now risen to more than 35,000 people per month. For more information about the Maui Food Bank, visit www.mauifoodbank.org or call 243-9500.
To volunteer for the Bayanihan Feeding Program on Sundays, visit https://forms.gle/sJVEAdmYKimfRR4V8. To donate to the program, visit www.binhiatani.org/donate or mail a check with “Feeding Progam” written on the memo line to: Binhi at Ani, 780 Onehee Ave., Kahului, HI 96732. To learn more about the Binhi at Ani Filipino Community Center and its programs, visit binhiatani.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 877-7880.
The Maui News – February 22, 2021