By Alma Tassi
After the tragic Lahaina fire, a visiting broker from Paradise, California came to talk to RAM members about the devastating 2018 fires that impacted her community. She implored the group, “Don’t forget the kids.” Those words resonated deeply with a group of local real estate agents from Aloha Group Maui with Keller Williams Realty Maui.
Based in Lahaina, the group lost their office to the fire and some agents lost their homes. Realtor Barbara Potts shared, “For me, we lost a lot of things. Our home, office, and a car. But what hurts the most is the loss of the community.” Despite grappling with their trauma, Potts and her team rallied together to make a difference.
One member of the group, Kathy Becklin shared, “The first week, we were all being asked, ‘Where can I give?’ Since we were hearing stories of struggling families, we decided to gather around the student community.”
Becklin set up a GoFundMe campaign and the group named their program the Maui Keiki Fire Relief Fund intending to help as many kids as they can with monthly distributions. The group aims to provide the peace of mind that these children will not be forgotten, so that they may focus on their physical and emotional recovery and what they do best - just being kids.
The campaign quickly raised over $20,000 and identified 46 children in need through an application and interview vetting process. 17% of the recipients have lost an immediate family member or a close friend, 86% lost their home, 36% lost a vehicle or means of transportation, 42% lost their school. Many of the children come from generational families that lost everything: homes, cars, jobs.
Distributions have helped families with things we may normally take for granted—the opportunity to celebrate a keiki’s birthday or give Christmas gifts. A family was able to replace some toys destroyed in the fires and a student shared they wanted to save the money for a future trip with her sports team. Through the instability many families are experiencing, the small acts of kindness and generosity are lifting spirits and hope.
To raise even more funds and continue their mission, the Maui Keiki Fire Relief Fund partnered with People for Educational Equality (PFEE), a Lahaina-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Potts started the nonprofit back in 2009 as a way to support students. She said, “The relief fund was right up our alley. Our board agreed to be the fiscal sponsor.”
If you would like to contribute, visit the Maui Keiki Fire Relief Fund GoFundMe page or send a check to People for Educational Equality, 1215 S Kihei Rd, Suite O PMB 333. Kihei, HI 96753.
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 email@example.com.
Photo Caption: Members of Aloha Group Maui