Realtors® deliver wishes to Kahului Elementary

On the afternoon of Wednesday, April 25, Kahului Elementary School faculty members gathered for what they likely assumed would be a routine teachers’ meeting. But a surprise awaited them that day: A check for $1,000. It was a bright spot for the elementary school, which suffered a devastating fire last year that burned multiple classrooms and caused an estimated $1.2 million in damage.

The bearers of that unexpected gift were Michelle Bosque of Coldwell Banker Island Vacations and Sarah Sorenson of Whale’s Tail Realty. Bosque is the designated Wishing Well…for Maui Students coordinator for Kahului Elementary School; Sorenson is the founder of the Wishing Well program.

For the past decade, RAM members and Wishing Well coordinators and volunteers have collected school supplies, slippers, furniture and other items with the goal of improving educational experiences and opportunities for Maui County’s public school students. Many parents are unable to provide the basic items their children need throughout the school year, so the simple act of collecting and distributing school supplies is a game changer for many students—and teachers, too.

In less than two hours, RAM members raised $1,000 for Kahului Elementary School through the Wishing Well program during a recent general membership meeting. And that was one of two gifts the school received through the Wishing Well program: A few weeks earlier, 500 backpacks filled with school supplies were donated to the Wishing Well program by employees of industrial manufacturing company Siemens, which held a conference at the Grand Wailea Resort & Spa. Of the 500 backpacks, 150 were designated for Kahului Elementary School; 150 for Lihikai Elementary School; 100 for Pu‘u Kukui Elementary School; and 100 for Iao Intermediate School.

“Teachers have a very large responsibility in the education of our children and their impact is immeasurable,” Bosque said. “I feel that we should bless and support them in whatever way we are able in order to reduce their burden so they can focus on what they are great at—teaching the future generations.”

Throughout the year, Bosque and her fellow Wishing Well coordinators and volunteers collect and distribute “wish list” items (which run the gamut from pencils to playground balls to scientific calculators to rubber slippers) to teachers and school administrators. The Wishing Well program is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and there are no administrative costs, so 100 percent of everything donated—cash, services and goods—goes directly to the schools. And the Wishing Well’s reach isn’t confined to the island of Maui—it covers all schools in Maui County and serves approximately 20,000 students on Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Since it was founded in 2007, the Wishing Well program has collected and contributed more than $1.65 million in goods, services and cash donations to every school in Maui County.

“I find it rewarding just knowing that we are making a positive impact for Maui students, their parents and the teachers,” Bosque said. “Some families do not have the financial means to provide their children with all the materials they need to learn in school or even money for lunch accounts. Teachers spend so much of their own hard earned money to give back to the children. This is a way that we can help support them and take some of that burden off them. It’s a win-win for all.”

In the past, Wishing Well volunteers held annual school supply drives at the entrance of the Kmart store in Kahului. But now that the store has closed its doors, Sorenson says donations are more important than ever—and every little bit helps. “Plastic storage containers, gently used office chairs, flat-screen TVs or even clean area rugs are always welcome,” Sorenson said. “Of course, cash allows us to purchase the specific educational tools that teachers need. Besides, it is a tax write-off, so everyone benefits.”

Want to make a difference for Maui’s students? Contributions to the Wishing Well program can be made in person at the RAM office, which is located at 441 Ala Makani Street in Kahului, or by visiting and making a PayPal donation. Checks should be made out to “RAM Community Foundation” with “Wishing Well” noted in the memo line. Donations are needed year-round and if you’re looking to offload any new or gently used household or office items, call Sorenson at 283-3969. For more information about the Wishing Well…for Maui Students program or to view a list of needed items, visit or email


By Sarah Ruppenthal
Published in The Maui News – May 26, 2018

Realtors® step up to help those in need

Ten thousand people. That’s how many men, women and children are served by the Maui Food Bank countywide—including the rural communities of Hana, Molokai and Lanai—every month.

Through its network of more than 120 partner agencies and programs, the nonprofit organization collects and distributes food to individuals, families, children and youth, seniors, the homeless—anyone who is at risk of going hungry.

That’s one of the reasons why Karin Carlson of NextHome Pacific Properties decided to join the Maui Food Bank’s board of directors last month. She was also encouraged to join by two fellow Realtors® Association of Maui members who also serve on the board: Tom Tezak of Wailea Realty Corp. A Boutique of Windermere Real Estate and Mark Harbison of Coldwell Banker Island Properties, who currently serves as the board chair. “Both Mark and Tom are so enthusiastic about the Maui Food Bank and their role to serve…how could you not want to join?” she said.

Since then, Carlson says she’s learned a lot about the organization. “I was so impressed that the Maui Food Bank accepts so many more items than the standard non-perishable and canned food donations,” she said. “The Maui Food Bank also accepts baby food, pet food, produce, as well as many non-food items. And the Maui Food Bank is the source for so many programs on Lanai and Molokai.”

The Maui Food Bank’s programs include monthly food deliveries to underserved areas, a senior mobile pantry, a holiday meal program and the Aloha BackPack Buddies program, which provides healthy weekend meals to students from food-insecure homes throughout the academic year. (Children who are on their school’s free and reduced priced meal program can pick up a pre-filled backpack on Friday afternoons; it contains six meals they can take home with them for the weekend.)

Harbison joined the Maui Food Bank board of directors in 2010; he was elected board chair in 2014 and again in 2017. Among other things, he has been active in promoting and running the Rotary Club of Kihei-Wailea’s food drives at the Piilani Village Shopping Center Safeway since the store opened; he has also sponsored Rotary district grants for a number of Maui Food Bank projects. “My favorites are a grant to provide meat packing services for a donated cow, and multiple grants to fund the Backpack Buddies pilot and the Kihei Youth Center’s Keiki Kitchen after school program,” he said. “Needless to say, I believe food security is one of our most pressing social issues.”

Harbison emphasized the pivotal role the Maui Food Bank plays in supporting its 120-plus agency and nonprofit partners. “The Maui Food Bank is not only the superstore for its partners, but also plays an important role in capacity building and demonstrating best practices,” he explained. “This is a truly symbiotic relationship in which our wide range of partners ensures that food reaches as many people as possible who are dealing with food insecurity.”

And since he came on board in 2010, Harbison says he has been inspired by the compassion of others. “I am continually impressed with the generosity of Maui people, including the amazing support of our visitors,” he said. “Maui Rotary Clubs and other organizations participate in statewide food drives during the holidays and in the spring, and every year I am amazed at how the number of Maui businesses sponsoring food drives just keeps growing, along with the number of people who give. Food security is a fundamental human right, and yet the problem of food insecurity is growing, along with the island of Maui. The support of the community, including our visitors, has enabled the Maui Food Bank to grow and to initiate and expand new programs, such as Aloha Backpack Buddies and our recent summer food program.”

Summer break is right around the corner; Harbison says providing meals for kids who are out of school will be an immediate challenge for the Maui Food Bank. You can provide hunger relief for those in need by making a monetary donation or holding a food drive at your business, school, place of worship, community service club or in your neighborhood anytime of the year. To learn more about the Maui Food Bank or to inquire about donor or volunteer opportunities, visit or call 243-9500.

Realtor® works to ensure equal opportunity in education

Nine years ago, a son took a bold step forward—and inspired his mother to do the same.

In 2009, Skip Potts, an English teacher and educational trainer, was determined to initiate dialogue about the disparities in our nation’s education system. So, he laced up his tennis shoes and went for a walk—from Boston, Massachusetts to Los Angeles, California. His 3,800-mile endeavor was inspired by a book, “Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools,” in which the author, John Kozol, examines the extremes of wealth and poverty in America’s public schools.

As Skip trekked across the country raising awareness and money for underfunded schools, his mother, Barbara Potts of the Aloha Group Maui office for KW Island Living, set up a nonprofit organization called People for Educational Equality (PFEE). The nonprofit’s mission is straightforward: To assist community-driven educational projects and improvements that are sustainable and can have a measurable impact on the schools or communities involved. Initially, PFEE made donations to schools outside of Hawaii that Skip had identified as needing support. But once her son completed his coast-to-coast journey, Potts, now the president of PFEE, shifted her focus to Maui.

“I have always felt that education is very important,” Potts explained. “And it’s easy to see that children in affluent neighborhoods have many more educational advantages than those who grow up in poor neighborhoods.”

Not long after PFEE was established, Potts signed up to be a Realtors Wishing Well…for Maui Students coordinator for Princess Nahi‘ena‘ena Elementary School (she is now the coordinator for King Kamehameha III Elementary School). She met with the vice principal to ask about the school’s needs and discovered that many parents worked multiple jobs or did not speak English at home, which made it difficult for students to have the extra support they needed for homework and other school projects. But then he told her about the Lahaina After School Tutoring Project, a program founded by West Maui residents Pat and Richard Endsley 17 years ago.

With the aim of increasing literacy and comprehension for West Maui public school students, the free tutoring program is staffed entirely by volunteer tutors who work with students on various subjects, while also helping them gain self-confidence, self-esteem and leadership skills.

Today, Potts serves on the Lahaina Complex Education Foundation’s (formerly the Lahaina Intermediate School Educational Foundation) board of directors, which sponsors the Lahaina Complex Tutoring Project. And for the past six years, Potts has volunteered as a sixth grade math tutor, and next year, she will be working with fifth graders.

Additionally, PFEE has coordinated a number of fundraising events and donated the proceeds to the tutoring program. Over the years, PFEE has organized the Aina Nalu Wine & Silent Auction Fundraiser for the Lahaina Complex Tutoring Project, with assistance from Aina Nalu condominium owners, Rotarians, tutor volunteers and other Realtors Association of Maui members. Since 2011, the biennial fundraiser has raised more than $84,000 for the program.

And every time Potts and her husband, Lee, close an escrow, they donate $100 to PFEE for the tutoring program. “We plan to continue supporting the tutoring program to ensure its long-term existence, while satisfying other educational needs for the West Maui public schools,” she said.

You can support the Lahaina Complex Tutoring Project—in the tastiest way possible—at Pi Artisan Pizzeria at the Outlets of Maui between now and Monday, May 14. Just present the code TUTOR18 to your server when you place your order, and 15% of the purchase will be donated to the tutoring program. Pi Artisan Pizzeria is located at 900 Front St. in Lahaina; call 667-0791 or visit

To learn more about People for Education Equality or to make a contribution, visit For more information about the Lahaina Complex Tutoring Project or to inquire about donor or volunteer opportunities, call 665-5815 or visit

By Sarah Ruppenthal
Originally published in The Maui News – May 12, 2018

RAM member continues to pay it forward

On a sunny afternoon in 1996, Josh Jerman of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers, then a senior at Baldwin High School, opened his mailbox to find an acceptance letter from his university of choice. But the moment of elation was eclipsed by uncertainty when he saw the hefty price tag for his education. Fortunately, Jerman applied for and received a number of academic scholarships. “I can tell you firsthand how important scholarships are,” he said. “I will always be grateful for the help I received.”

With that in mind, Jerman vowed to pay it forward someday. “My college education was made possible by the generosity of other people,” he said. “I wanted to return the favor in some way.” After graduation, he moved back to Maui and started his real estate career. Not long after, in 2004, he fulfilled his pledge by establishing the Josh and Souk Jerman Foundation Scholarship (formerly the Josh Jerman Maui Nui Scholarship) program, which helps eligible Maui County students pay for college.

Every year since, Jerman and his wife, Souksamlane, have given three $1,000 tuition scholarships to three high school seniors who will attend an accredited four-year college or university. Now in its fifteenth year, the program has awarded more than $44,000 in scholarships to Maui, Molokai and Lanai students who have displayed a passion for returning to (or, in some cases, remaining in) Maui County after graduation so they can contribute to the community.

This year’s recipients are Kaya Givensel from Seabury Hall, Veronica Winham from Seabury Hall, and Kiki Bekkum from Hāna High and Elementary School. In the fall, Givensel will attend Arizona State University, where she plans to study landscape architecture. Winham will attend Dartmouth College, where she will study political science and English; she will also be running NCAA Division 1 cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. Bekkum will attend the University of Portland, where she plans to pursue a degree in psychology.

“I want to thank Josh and Souk Jerman, because without their generous scholarship, I would have a difficult time paying for college,” Bekkum said. “People like them give me hope that there are good people in this world. When I get older and can afford it, I would love to give scholarships like they do.” Like Bekkum, Winham said she is grateful for the scholarship award. “I would like to thank Josh and Souk Jerman for providing this opportunity,” she said. “My family and I really appreciate the help and it will make paying for college easier.”

Givensel said she was thrilled to learn she had been selected as one of this year’s recipients. “It feels great to receive the financial support I need from my community,” she said. “I would like to thank Josh and Souk Jerman for giving me the opportunity to succeed by helping me get to my college and pursue my career path.”

Winham said all students should consider applying for scholarships like the Josh and Souk Jerman Foundation Scholarship. “I would encourage other high school seniors to apply for scholarships like this one,” she said. “Opportunities like these can make a big difference in helping with the expenses of college.”

The deadline to apply for next year’s Josh and Souk Jerman Foundation Scholarship is February 20, 2019. To be eligible, an applicant must be a resident of Maui County; be enrolled in a full-time program at an accredited four-year college or university for the 2019-20 academic year; demonstrate financial need; and plan to return and work in Maui County after graduation.

“It’s something I look forward to every year,” Jerman said. “I’m always impressed by the caliber of applicants. The future really does look bright.”

To learn more about the Josh and Souk Jerman Foundation Scholarship program, visit

RAM commemorates 50th anniversary of Fair Housing Act

Fifty years ago, with a stroke of his pen, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the last great legislative achievement of the civil rights era: Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, more commonly referred to as the Fair Housing Act.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the passage of the landmark Fair Housing Act, more than 30 people attended a proclamation signing ceremony at the Kalana O Maui building on Monday, April 16, during which Mayor Alan Arakawa declared April 2018 as Fair Housing Month.

Among those in attendance were RAM President Rhonda Hay; RAM Government Affairs Director Lawrence Carnicelli; RAM Chief Staff Executive David Belew; RAM members Margit Tolman, Michael Bush and Bob Lightbourn; RAM member and Na Hale O Maui board member Mike Trotto; Mayor Alan Arakawa; County of Maui Managing Director Keith Regan; Department of Housing and Human Concerns Director Carol Reimann, Department of Housing and Human Concerns Deputy Director Jan Shishido; Assistant Housing Administrator Buddy Almeida; and several nonprofit directors.

“This proclamation is a wonderful way of placing the spotlight on how far we have come from and yet how far we still need to go,” Carnicelli said. “RAM is very aware of the REALTORS®’ role at the forefront of advancing fair housing. Ample work still needs to be done regarding increasing diversity in our community. Discriminatory housing practices creates segregation that lead to disparate outcomes in our overall quality of life. Therefore, we will continue to lead the efforts to address our island’s fair housing issues.”

The Fair Housing Act was signed into law on April 11, 1968 to protect people from discrimination when they are renting, buying or securing financing for any housing. The prohibitions specifically cover discrimination because of race, national origin, religion, sex, disability and the presence of children. In April 1967, Hawaii enacted its own fair housing law, Chapter 515 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, which preceded the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968. The mayoral proclamation acknowledges both fair housing laws and urges “all citizens, agencies and institutions in this county to abide by the letter and spirit of the Fair Housing Act and Chapter 515 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes and support an end to housing discrimination.”
In recognition of the milestone anniversary of the federal Fair Housing Act, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) launched a yearlong “Fair Housing Makes US Stronger” campaign, which acknowledges NAR’s past role in the fight for fair housing; promotes understanding of NAR’s ongoing commitment to fair housing practices nationwide; and embraces Realtors’ role at the forefront of advancing fair housing and leading efforts to address community fair housing issues.
“We proudly join the National Association of Realtors’ yearlong ‘Fair Housing Makes US Stronger’ campaign via Maui’s own Fair Housing proclamation commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and the Fair Housing Act,” Carnicelli said.
During the mayoral proclamation ceremony on April 16, Hay spoke on behalf of RAM. “RAM understands that great progress has been made; however, some discrimination in housing still exists. Therefore, we are not finished,” she said. “There is still much work to be done. It is extremely important to continue to expand equal housing opportunity to include one and all.”

Hay said RAM remains steadfast in its belief that fair housing is a critical part of keeping Maui a healthy and progressive place to live. “We recognize the uniquely important role we have in this essential endeavor to ensure everyone will have the opportunity to find a place to call home,” she said. “We will continue to advocate for all, especially those who can’t advocate for themselves. RAM is working together with our partners and allies to show that our industry is firmly committed to expanding fair housing protection and to help everyone experience the American Dream of homeownership. That is the mission of RAM—and that is a mission worth fighting for.”

For more information about the federal Fair Housing Act, visit


By Sarah Ruppenthal
Published in The Maui News – April 28, 2018

Realtor® delivers compassion to those in need

Aesop once said: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” The ancient Greek storyteller’s words resonate with Kim Licata of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers, who quite literally goes the extra mile to help people in need.

Since 2014, Licata and her two children, Keoni, 11, and Lyvia, 6, have hand-delivered dozens of meal pouches—large Ziploc baggies filled with homemade sandwiches, freshly baked cookies, bags of chips and bottles of water—to Maui’s unsheltered. The family will load the pouches into Licata’s car and spend the afternoon driving around looking for anyone who needs a meal and a little company. “We introduce ourselves, shake hands, ask their names and ask if they are hungry and would like something to eat,” Licata said. “Sometimes we start at the Banyan Tree in Lahaina and walk until we reach Longhi’s and then we turn back. We are usually able to hand out all of the pouches on the walk. People are so thankful. It fills us with gratitude, but at the same time, it’s incredibly heartbreaking that there are humans who are starving and struggling in our own backyard.”

When Licata first conceived of the idea four years ago, the family distributed the meal pouches during the holiday season, but over time, they began making deliveries year-round. “Eventually it became a regular activity that my children and I grew to love,” she explained. “There are times that we go as regularly as once a month, and when we go too long without doing it, my children start missing it and will ask when we can feed the homeless again. It is a real family tradition of us getting the food to prepare, making the pouches and handing them out—one that I feel more families should do.”

Apart from knowing she’s helping nourish those in need, Licata says watching Lyvia and Keoni learn and practice compassion is the greatest reward. “It is a beautiful thing to watch my children fearlessly approach people, shake their hands and offer them food,” she said. “The smiles and gratitude that my children get to experience is completely rewarding. They have such a sense of purpose for something that actually matters and I’ve been able to teach them to always remain grateful and humble no matter what our own life circumstance is; these are values that will keep their feet on the ground for the rest of their lives. They’ve learned that gratitude and love are not just feelings to be felt—but actions that must be exercised regularly to have a real impact.”

In fact, she said, “It is not unusual for my daughter to see someone outside of a market asking for change and then go into the store and pick out entire bags of groceries for them.”

And Licata has learned from the experience, too. “Besides the quality time with my children doing something meaningful, it really keeps life in perspective,” she said. “On days that I feel overwhelmed by life or feel down and out, it reminds me that life is not about how much money we have or don’t have. It is about being kind, helping others and making sure that people don’t feel alone in this world.”

With that in mind, Licata hopes others will consider following her lead. “I am always encouraging people to do this, and not just during the holidays,” she said. “People struggle all year-round and a simple gesture at the holidays barely scratches the surface. It is a good start, but it should be done all year.”

And Licata knows firsthand that these acts of kindness benefit the giver and the receiver. “There is no better medicine for the soul than helping others,” she said. “Compassion is a powerful action. It is free, it is easy to give and it changes lives. It can even save a life.”

Realtor® helps keep the past alive

How much history can a single room hold? A lot, judging from the Makawao History Museum. In this charming, one-room museum, you’ll find a treasure trove of old photos, artifacts and rotating exhibits that explore the history and heritage of Makawao’s settlers, as well as the town’s paniolo culture. And on any given day, you might find Cherie Attix greeting visitors at the door or tending to one of the exhibits. “It’s a little museum with a big heart,” she said.

Attix, a Realtor®-Salesperson with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Advantage Realty Valley Isle, is one of the Makawao History Museum’s longtime volunteers. “I have been involved since the beginning,” she said. “Originally, it was the Makawao History Project, a temporary pop-up. We had such a great response from the community and it was a lot of work to open the doors. So, when a smaller space in the middle of town became available, we decided to settle in, downsize and keep it going.”

Attix says a newfound interest in historic preservation and restoration (she’d recently purchased and restored two heritage homes in Makawao) inspired her to sign up as a volunteer. “The idea of having a hand in preserving and showcasing some of Makawao’s uniqueness was very appealing to me,” she recalled.

Since then, Attix has designed and created a number of exhibits that give museum visitors an inside look at Makawao’s storied past. “I work with Darrell Orwig on the exhibits and we enjoy it because as artists, we are granted creative license for our installations,” she explained. “It seems that each one we do is more fun and more refined than the last. We also have a historian and a graphic designer as part of the team, so our exhibits are informative and inviting.” That aptly describes the museum’s newest exhibit, “Grandma Vovo’s Kitchen,” which recreates a Portuguese kitchen of yesteryear.

As a volunteer, Attix clearly relishes the teachable moments, as well as the opportunities to learn more about the history of her home. “My memories of Hawaii only go back 40-plus years, so I enjoy hearing more about earlier life in Upcountry Maui,” she said. “Even though Makawao has changed a lot, it still has a small town feel that is so precious and getting harder to find.”

And that “small town feel” can be attributed to Makawao’s sense of community. “It’s been a rich and rewarding experience interacting with folks that I may not have had the opportunity to meet if it had not been for the museum,” she said. “I really enjoy being in the museum when somebody comes in and shares their story—their personal history and their memories of being raised in Upcountry Maui. Many of our kupuna have so thoroughly enjoyed visiting and talking story with guests or the volunteers.”

With that in mind, Attix encourages others to consider volunteering at the museum. “You’ll enjoy interacting with visitors and you’ll have a chance to learn more about our history and community,” she said. “The docents and our board of directors are a wonderful and dedicated group of volunteers.”

Apart from volunteering, you can help the museum achieve its mission—to preserve and share the cultural heritage of the Makawao community by bringing history to life for present and future generations—by making a donation. “We are completely nonprofit and we keep the doors open through donations and grants,” Attix explained. “All donations to the museum are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.” You can also stop by the museum and purchase notecards, postcards, a historical walking map of Makawao Town or the “Look What’s Cooking in Makawao” cookbook, which is filled with family recipes from local residents.

Attix and her fellow volunteers will be selling tickets for the annual Paniolo Pancake Breakfast offered on the morning of the Makawao Rodeo Parade. Tickets are available for preorder at the museum or at the door; all proceeds support the Makawao History Museum.

The museum is located at 3643 Baldwin Ave. in Makawao, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 572-2482 or visit

By Sarah Ruppenthal
Published in The Maui News – April 7, 2018

Photo credit: Darrell Orwig



Registration in full swing for RAM golf fundraiser

Don’t miss your chance to tee off and win big for Maui County students during the annual Realtors Presidential Scholarship Golf Event on Saturday, May 5, at the King Kamehameha Golf Course in Waikapu.

The format of this year’s event will be a three-person scramble. A salad bar lunch, sponsored by Fidelity National Title & Escrow of Hawaii, begins at 11:30 a.m.; golfers can also warm up on a putting green hosted by Old Republic Title & Escrow of Hawaii starting at 11:30 a.m.

Check-in is at noon and the shotgun start is at 1 p.m. There will be a helicopter ball drop at 6:15 p.m., followed by a Cinco de Mayo-themed awards party sponsored by Wells Fargo Home Mortgage of Hawaii. After the awards are handed out, stick around for prize giveaways, a silent and live auction, and live music and entertainment by the Natalie Nicole Band.

Golfers will compete for the team grand prize (and bragging rights) and if you happen to hit a hole-in-one on the 10th hole, you’ll be driving away in a shiny new BMW. And throughout the afternoon, event sponsors will be at each hole to provide golfers with fun and games, prizes, food, beverages.

And the best part? All proceeds will benefit RAM’s Presidential Scholarship Fund.

Since its inception in 1989, RAM’s Presidential Scholarship Fund has awarded more than $620,000 in scholarships to college-bound high school seniors throughout Maui County, as well as past recipients of RAM’s Presidential Scholarship Fund. Every year, RAM offers scholarships to eligible recipients; funds for the scholarship program are raised through events like the Realtors Presidential Scholarship Golf Event, RAM’s Installation Luncheon, RAM’s Big Deal fundraiser and the “RAM’s Got Talent” show at the Historic Iao Theater.

“The top three reasons to play in the 2018 Realtors Presidential Scholarship Golf Event is No. 1, fun; No. 2., fun; and No. 3., fun,” said Eddie Niemeyer of Coldwell Banker Island Properties, who serves as co-chair of RAM’s Golf Committee. “Not to mention, there’s the chance to win great prizes, including a brand-new BMW, enjoy the beauty of the King Kamehameha Golf Course, put in the winning bid on awesome auction items, and network with the top Realtors and affiliates on Maui.”

And of course, there’s the biggest thrill of all: teeing off to support a good cause. “One-hundred percent of the proceeds benefit the RAM’s Presidential Scholarship Fund, which awards $1,000 scholarships to deserving high school seniors in our Maui community,” Niemeyer said.

The $199 per person entry fee includes greens fees, range balls, a golf cart, lunch, eligibility for a grand door prize, and the Cinco de Mayo-themed after party. On the day of the event, you can purchase two mulligans for $20 (which are sold together; one set per player). There will also be a closest to the pin contest on the par 3s for $20 per player. “Half of the pot will go to the scholarship fund and half will be awarded to the closest shots on each of the four par 3s,” Niemeyer explained.

Not a golfer? No problem. You can still participate (and cheer on your favorite team or player) by attending the awards banquet and after party at the King Kamehameha Golf Course Clubhouse; “after party only” tickets are $49 per person. You can also participate in the helicopter ball drop at 6:15 p.m. or place a bid on some great silent auction items – you don’t have to be present to win.

To register for the 2018 Realtors Presidential Scholarship Golf Event, visit For more information about sponsorship opportunities or the Cinco de Mayo-themed after party at the King Kamehameha Golf Course Clubhouse, contact Amy Johnson at To learn more about RAM’s Presidential Scholarship Fund, visit

Realtor® encourages others to pay it forward

The holidays may be behind us, but it’s never too late—or too early, depending on how you look at it—to reflect on the season of giving. Just ask Lisa Teichner of Keller Williams Island Living, who is still basking in the glow of the Christmas spirit.

On Dec. 17, 2017, Teichner was scrolling through her Facebook newsfeed when something caught her eye. “I saw a post from another Keller Williams agent who had gone to Toys “R” Us and paid off layaways there,” she recalled. “He had been inspired by yet another Keller Williams agent who has been paying off layaways every year for the past few years.”

Teichner, too, was inspired—so much, in fact, that she picked up the phone the next day and called the Toys “R” Us store at Queen Kaahumanu Center. But, she said, “I found out that all of their layaways had either been sold or returned to the shelves a few days earlier.”

Undeterred, Teichner began calling every store she could think of and discovered that holiday layaway programs are few and far between. But when she called Sears, she was elated to learn there were a handful of unpaid layaway accounts. “I was so happy that I went in two days later to find out what they had,” she said. In recent years, the “Layaway Santa” trend has caught on; donors have cleared strangers’ layaway debts at stores nationwide—bringing much-needed relief to many financially strapped shoppers. However, Teichner came to realize that the “Layaway Santa” concept was a relatively new one to many of the store’s employees. “The woman I spoke to on the phone, as well as the cashiers when I went in, were very confused about what I was doing there and asking for,” she laughed.

Teichner met with Sears’s manager, Patrick Supplee, who was overjoyed when she told him about her plan. “He was so helpful,” she said. “He had recently moved to Maui from the mainland and his vision was for Sears to share and continue to grow the aloha spirit with its employees and customers.” It’s safe to say that Teichner helped bring his vision to life: In a matter of minutes, she paid off holiday layaway balances ranging from $25 to $600.

Since then, Teichner has received several heartfelt “thank yous” from layaway account holders. “They said they were very happy, grateful and it was a blessing for them,” she said. “Patrick wanted to share my information with them in case they wanted to contact me—and I’m glad he did, because it made me even happier to know that they were happy. It definitely made me cry.”

Teichner says she plans to pay off more layaways in December—and will continue to do so in the years to come. “Now I would not let a year pass where I didn’t share what I have and give to those who would be blessed by it, especially in my own community,” she said. “I am fortunate to receive the gift of profit share from my company. It is money that I don’t need to live; it’s extra, passive income that I can do with whatever I choose. And I choose to share it.”

Not long after clearing the layaway accounts at Sears, Teichner took to social media to share her story and it paid off (literally) in unexpected ways. “I posted a photo with Patrick and the paid receipts on Facebook, which in turn inspired others to pay it forward and do the same,” she said. “Imagine if that were thousands of us—or hundreds of thousands.”

With that in mind, she encourages others to consider trying on a “Layaway Santa” hat this year. “I would encourage anyone to do it, even if it’s for one person and even if no one else knows about it,” she said. “That feeling of selfless giving and how it impacts your world and your life is everything you need. I’ve experienced no other feeling quite like it. It was worth every penny and thousands more.”

By Sarah Ruppenthal
Published in The Maui News – March 31, 2018

Photo credit: Brett Wulfson

RAM members play for a purpose

There’s a story behind every band name. Fred’s Garage is no exception.

It all began seven years ago, when drummer Ray Chin of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers invited guitarist Mark Jackson of Island Sotheby’s International Realty to a jam session held in—yes, you guessed it—Fred’s garage.

“Fred” is Lahaina resident and fellow musician Fred Rickert; his eponymous garage served as the rehearsal studio for the then-fledgling rock ‘n’ roll band. “Fred brought together friends and musicians to jam and have fun at his home,” Chin explained. “We rehearsed there every Tuesday night.” So, when it came time to pick a name for the band, Jackson and Chin—who, by then, had welcomed a new bandmate, bassist and vocalist Jason Jerome—say the choice was an obvious one. “It spoke to the origins of the band and the name was musically neutral by nature,” Chin explained.

Chin, Jackson and Jerome made their musical debut as Fred’s Garage in 2012, performing at the Hard Rock Café’s annual Thanksgiving Lunch for the Homeless and Hungry. “From the beginning, this band was all about giving back to the community,” Chin said.

Jackson agrees wholeheartedly. “Our passion is playing music and we like to be able to pass that on in a way that helps the community and helps in fundraising and awareness,” he said.

Since then, Fred’s Garage has taken the stage at a number of fundraising events, including Maui Preparatory Academy’s Paniolo Night; Women Helping Women’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes; the Kapalua Clambake Pro–Am Invitational; Sacred Hearts School Bazaar; Seabury Hall Craft Fair; an Assistance Dogs of Hawaii fundraiser at the Maui Brewing Company; several Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunset functions; and the RAM’s Got Talent event benefiting Maui OnStage and RAM’s Presidential Scholarship Fund.

“While we may be a band for hire from time to time, we ultimately play for the pure pleasure of satisfying our own musical and creative needs. It is a passion—not a job,” Chin said. “And there is nothing more personally satisfying than to be able to take a passion and have it benefit others.”

Last summer, Fred’s Garage added Eva to the band’s roster as a guest vocalist after spotting an ad she’d posted on Craigslist; in February, Eva became the band’s full time lead singer. “As a fourth member, she adds an entirely new dimension to our sound and performance,” Chin said. “The band is excited for the next chapter of our music.” On Saturday, Feb. 10, in their sixth public performance as a quartet, Fred’s Garage dazzled the crowd—and took home the first-place prize—at the RAM’s Got Talent show at the Historic Iao Theater. “Fred’s Garage plays rock songs that everyone knows, but we are not a cover band; we choose songs and try to make them our own,” Chin said. “For example, we play a version of Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues,’ but I guarantee you that Johnny Cash never played our version. We are successful because we have developed our own distinctive musical voice…and because we listen with purpose.”

And the band’s tagline, “listen with purpose” is a call to action, Chin and Jackson said. “Great musicians are great because they listen with purpose. They communicate to one another musically and build off these musical conversations. Great music is not a regurgitation of the same songs played over and over in the same way,” Chin explained. “We challenge ourselves—with varying degrees of success and failure—to keep growing musically so our songs will have a sustained life each time we play them.”

With that in mind, Jackson and Chin say they encourage their fans (cleverly dubbed “Fred-Heads”) to be active observers. “Our music may inspire you to dance, scream, reminisce, boo—or even leave. We will be thrilled with any of these responses, so long as our audience listens with purpose,” Chin said. “The intent of our music is not be background music for anybody or anything. Attending a Fred’s Garage show should always be a participatory event, and by the time our show is over, our audience should be physically exhausted and musically fulfilled.”

You can see Fred’s Garage in action at the Sacred Hearts School Bazaar on Friday, April 13, at 7 p.m. To learn more about Fred’s Garage, visit


By Sarah Ruppenthal
Published in The Maui News – March 24, 2018