If you stopped by the Island Sotheby’s International Realty South Maui office earlier this month, you may have noticed it was extra sparkly inside. That’s because several agents used the space to wrap the gifts they’d bought for kids staying at Ka Hale A Ke Ola (KHAKO) Homeless Resource Centers in Wailuku.
And they didn’t skimp on the glitter.
In fact, Realtor-Broker Ron Silva says he’s still finding specks of it around the office—and in his car, too. “It’s everywhere,” he laughed.
Silva is one of the many Realtors Association of Maui (RAM) members who prepare and serve meals at KHAKO on Wednesday evenings throughout the year. Debra Merle of Island Sotheby’s International Realty spearheaded the monthly Realtor-sponsored dinners in 1989, and since then, she’s brought dozens of agents on board. Silva has been lending a hand in the KHAKO kitchen for the past 15 years. As a former chef, it’s something that comes naturally to him. ““I know my way around a kitchen,” he said. “It’s one way I can give back.”
Last December, Silva and his colleagues at the Island Sotheby’s International Realty South Maui office unanimously voted to forgo their annual “Secret Santa” party and throw a holiday party for the residents of KHAKO instead. The extra-festive Wednesday night dinner was so successful that they decided to do it again the following year. This time, they teamed up with volunteers from Fidelity National Title Insurance Company and the Kiwanis Club of Kahului.
On the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 4, Silva and his fellow volunteers purchased and cooked dinner for more than 70 adults and children. And it was quite a feast. The menu included prime rib, roast pork loin, stuffing, gravy, rice, asparagus and pumpkin pie. To elevate the holiday ambiance, singer-songwriter Brooks Maguire serenaded the dinner guests, and Santa hat-wearing volunteers set up a cookie decorating station for the kids. “We created a party atmosphere so they could take their minds off of things for one night,” Silva explained. “We got a lot of thank-yous… everyone was so appreciative.”
In the days leading up to the Dec. 4 dinner, Island Sotheby’s International Realty agents purchased and wrapped presents for children staying at the shelter (any surplus gifts were delivered to the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui). Silva says watching the kids open their gifts was the best part of the evening. “They were so excited to receive them,” he said. “It moved some of us to tears.”
“I’m so thankful for the Realtors who dedicate their free time on Wednesday evenings to bring food and serve our residents at the emergency homeless shelter,” said KHAKO executive director Monique Yamashita. “Their generosity of time and resources is awe-inspiring and has made a valuable and positive impact for the residents, staff and to the agency. We really appreciate all of the love and generosity from our Realtors.”
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 organization recently redirected its focus to breaking the cycle of homelessness by finding and maintaining permanent housing for its residents.
KHAKO provides thousands of meals to men, women and children every year and volunteers are always needed to lend a hand at its Central and West Side facilities. To learn more about food donation or volunteer opportunities, visit www.khako.org/volunteer. For more information about Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers or to inquire about volunteer or donor opportunities, visit www.khako.org or call 242-7600.
The Maui News – December 16, 2019