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Volunteers (left to right) Bruce McDonald, Howard Dinits, Mary Dinits, Naomi Petterson, Patrick Kilbride, Anne Diola and Brooks Maguire served a fun and festive Fourth of July-themed dinner to residents staying at the Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers facility in Wailuku on Wednesday, July 7. Photo: Todd Kanoa

What was red, white, blue and fun all over? The Fourth of July-themed dinner at the Ka Hale A Ke Ola (KHAKO) Homeless Resource Centers Wailuku facility on Wednesday, July 7.

Sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Kahului and First Hawaii Title Corp., the event had all the trimmings: hot dogs and burgers, sautéed veggies, salad, watermelon slices, ice cream, star-spangled decorations, and live music performed by Maui singer-songwriter Brooks Maguire.

The festive feast was made possible by Realtors Association of Maui (RAM) members Shannon Cortez of First Hawaii Title Corp., Howard Dinits of Dinits Realty, Anne Diola of Makai Mortgage, Bruce McDonald of Coldwell Banker Island Properties, Naomi Petterson of Maui Realty Company, and Kai Schmidt of First Hawaii Title Corp.

Dinits, Diola, McDonald and Petterson were among those who volunteered that evening. The group has prepared and served dinners at the shelter in the past, and every time, McDonald said, “It is the best feeling… every second of it.” The simple act of hosting a meal for the men, women and children staying at KHAKO, he said, “Shows them they are important, people care, and they are not forgotten.”

This isn’t the first time RAM members have stepped up to support KHAKO. In 2019, they raised nearly $30,000 to help the nonprofit purchase a brand-new playground for its Wailuku facility. In 2020, KHAKO became a beneficiary of the Wishing Well…for Maui Students, a program of the Realtors Association of Maui Community Foundation that provides school supplies and other items to Maui County’s public schools.

Since 1989, RAM members have sponsored monthly meals at the nonprofit’s two facilities in Lahaina and Wailuku, gathering in KHAKO’s kitchens to prepare and serve meals on a designated night. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers could no longer cook and serve food on site, but were able to pick up and deliver pre-made meals to both shelters. The July 7 dinner was the first in-person event at the Wailuku shelter since the pandemic began, and coincidentally, the Kiwanis Club of Kahului and First Hawaii Title Corp. also hosted the last in-person meal in March of 2020.

“Having one of our beloved dinner sponsor volunteer groups come back to the shelter to cook a meal for our guests is a sure sign that we are moving out of the COVID pandemic,” said KHAKO Executive Director Monique Ibarra. “We are so thankful to Kiwanis Club of Kahului and First Hawaii Title Corp. for remaining with us through the COVID precautions we set in place at the shelter. Dropping off meals for the guests was very welcomed and appreciated, but to have the crew at the shelter was fantastic. We look forward to reopening the volunteer opportunities to the community again as they have been an integral part of the lifeline for our guests.”

KHAKO is a comprehensive resource center that prepares families and individuals for permanent housing while providing emergency shelter, counseling services, addiction recovery management and adult education and training, as well as a primary care medical clinic and childcare facilities. The nonprofit provides thousands of meals to men, women and children every year and volunteers are always needed to lend a hand at its two facilities. To learn more about food donation or volunteer opportunities, contact KHAKO food services manager Todd Kanoa at 446-8137. For more information about KHAKO or to inquire about donor opportunities, visit or call 242-7600.

The Maui News – July 19, 2021

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