By Sarah Ruppenthal
It’s been four years since Liza Rivera of Keller Williams Realty Maui stepped up to help the Maui Food Bank as it navigated the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. And she has no plans to stop anytime soon.
In the spring of 2020, Rivera picked up the phone and called Chelsey Ham, the community relations manager for the Maui Food Bank, and asked what she could do to help residents impacted by the pandemic. In the two weeks that followed, Rivera drove around Maui picking up donations from family members, friends, clients and members of the Koa Puna Motorcycle Club. The following month, Rivera coordinated a food drive as part of Keller Williams Realty Maui’s RED (Renew, Energize and Donate) Day, an annual day of service held on the second Thursday of May.
In the fall of 2020, the Maui Food Bank assigned Rivera her own food distribution site, Hale Makana O Waiale (Hale Makana for short), an apartment complex located next to Ka Hale A Ke Ola (KHAKO) Homeless Resource Centers in Wailuku. In the four years since, Rivera, along with her husband Raymond and sister, Rebecca Galvan, has held monthly food distributions at Hale Makana.
On one of Rivera’s first visits to Hale Makana, a young mother politely asked if there was any soap, shampoo, or toothpaste available. Rivera only had food items on hand that day, but she says the inquiry sparked an idea. Soon after, she held a toiletry drive to collect personal care products for anyone who needed them. It was Rivera’s first-ever toiletry drive—and it wouldn’t be her last. Last year, in addition to collecting toiletry donations from colleagues, clients, friends and family members, Rivera contacted Lisa Paulson, executive director of the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association, who presented a $2,500 check to the Maui Food Bank for the toiletry drive. The food bank used the funds to purchase some of the most-needed personal care items, which were distributed to Hale Makana residents.
Realtors Association of Maui member and Maui Food Bank volunteer Liza Rivera poses with some of the toiletry donations she collected for the Maui Food Bank as part of Keller Williams Realty Maui’s RED (Renew, Energize and Donate) Day, an annual day of service held on the second Thursday of May.
Photo courtesy Liza Rivera
This year, Rivera held a toiletry drive that began in mid-April and ended on RED Day on Thursday, May 11. On RED Day, a team of Keller Williams Realty Maui volunteers gathered at the company’s Kahului office, where they filled Ziploc bags with the donated items. The bags were then delivered to the Maui Food Bank and will be available to residents in need at Rivera’s next food distribution at Hale Makana.
The RED Day toiletry drive ended on May 11, but it’s not too late to make a contribution. Rivera will continue to collect items like shampoo, conditioner, soap, laundry detergent, feminine hygiene products, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, toilet paper, adult diapers, and baby diapers and wipes for residents of Hale Makana and KHAKO’s Wailuku shelter. To donate, contact Rivera at (808) 281-1320 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Maui Food Bank provides safe and nutritious food to anyone in Maui County who is food insecure. To learn more about the Maui Food Bank or for a list of food drop-off and distribution locations, visit www.mauifoodbank.org.
Realtor means a member of the National Association of Realtors. Do you know a Realtors Association of Maui member who should be recognized for their contributions to the community? If so, send your story idea to Sarah Ruppenthal at email@example.com.