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Hosting a Holiday Feast to Remember

By Alma Tassi

Year after year, RAM members step up to provide holiday meals at Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resources Centers (KHAKO) in Wailuku. With all the challenges this year brought, a festive gathering on December 6th brought smiles, joy, and comfort to all those in attendance.

Volunteers decorated the shelter, helped with food preparation and serving meals, and warmly greeted shelter families with holiday cheer. With contributions from the Friends of the Children Justice Center, Santa arrived ready to bestow keiki with backpacks, stuffed teddies, gift cards, and toys. Musician Brooks McGuire performed holiday music and families delighted in picture taking with Santa.

Led by Patrick Kilbride of PK’s Plants and Lawn Services, RAM members coordinate these events throughout the year for holidays like Mother’s Day and the 4th of July. Bruce McDonald of Coldwell Banker Islands Properties and Kiwanis Club of Kahului has volunteered at the shelter for a variety of meals but says the December event is always the most attended.

KHAKO Child Services Coordinator Misty Bannister explains, “These moments are so heartfelt and it means so much to our shelter families and our team. It shows us all what community means, it gives us all time to reflect, to be thankful, and to want to continue providing our shelter participants with a real sense of hope, light in the darkness, and proof that others do care and want to share such blessings.”

When the west side KHAKO shelter was lost in Lahaina due to the August fire, the Wailuku site was able to shelter those who needed to come in.

Shelter_Cropped PC Patrick Kilbride

Photo Caption: Christmas dinner volunteers above include Coldwell Banker Island Properties, First Hawaii Title Corporation, Makai Mortgage LLC, Kiwanis Club of Kahului and KHAKO staff. Photo courtesy Patrick Kilbride

“Losing our Lahaina shelter impacted every single one of us. We lost a special place that provided so many opportunities for our participants there. A lot of them were on their way out to permanent housing, some of them had just entered shelter and a lot of them were just beginning to turn things around for the better. We are all in some way still grieving, processing and healing.”

Bannister says that although financial contributions are always welcome and appreciated, volunteers can really make a difference. The shelter is in need of those willing to spend time with their keiki providing enriching activities and helping after school with homework. Activities or opportunities that many other youth may experience regularly might be something so rare and even unheard of for some of our shelter keiki. “We need creative minds who truly want to make a difference with our children and families in shelter.”

After the holiday event, McDonald shared that one of the parents later sent a note saying, “My daughter told me it was the best Christmas she ever had.” McDonald beamed, “You hear something like that and you know why you’re here to help.”

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 Alma Tassi at

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