In the Hawaiian language, “i mua” means “to move forward.” And when you see what happens every day at Imua Family Services, it’s clear the organization lives up to its namesake.

In 1947, a group of concerned parents and community members created Imua Family Services to help children with polio and cerebral palsy. Nearly three-quarters of a century later, it is the largest single provider of early childhood intervention and development programs in the state. The organization serves close to 2,000 children and their families on Maui, Molokai and Lanai and offers family-centered, therapeutic services for infants, toddlers and preschool children, from birth to age 6. Services include an infant child development program, early childhood development program, autism services, newborn hearing screening, Dream Imua (formerly “A Keiki’s Dream”) and Camp Imua, an overnight recreational camp for school-age children with special needs.

The organization has covered a lot of ground in its 71-year history, but one thing hasn’t changed: Imua Family Services continues to empower children and their families to reach their full potential.

That’s one of the many reasons why Dan Uhrich of Fine Island Properties, LLC joined Imua Family Services’ board of directors six years ago. “I was inspired to join the board of directors’ leadership team when Dean Wong accepted the position of executive director,” he said. “I had worked with Dean at other Maui organizations prior to Imua and knew firsthand of his dynamic leadership skills. He knows how to envision the growth and direction an organization needs to take and how to ‘rally the troops’ in order to get the job done.”

As a fledgling board member, Uhrich gladly hit the ground running. “I was involved in the first strategic plan development for the organization,” he said. “Five years later, the strategic plan was fully realized, including a state-of-the-art campus for all of Imua’s existing programs, as well as new ones implemented, such as the inclusion preschool and center for autism services.”

Uhrich says he relishes the opportunity to help bring the organization’s vision to reality. “The most rewarding part of being on the board is the vision that Dean and the board have for expanding the services for the children and families of Maui County,” he said.

As far as board members go, those serving on Imua Family Services’ board of directors are far from figureheads. To the contrary, Uhrich said, “This board of directors is a working board. Besides the president, there are three working vice presidents: one who oversees the internal affairs committee; one who oversees the external affairs committee; and one who oversees the finance committee. These committees work very closely with Dean and the staff to ensure smooth sailing of all internal programs and external events.”

And speaking of external events, Imua Family Services’ annual gala fundraiser is right around the corner. “Festivals of the World: The Bollywood Ball”—a night of Bollywood glamour, Indian cuisine, music dancing and entertainment—will be held on Saturday, March 31, at the Hyatt Regency Maui in Kaanapali.

Uhrich encourages everyone to consider attending this year’s event, which is guaranteed to be a good time—and all for a good cause. “In this day and age of federal and state funding being cut for services for children and families, it is imperative that the community support organizations like Imua,” he said. “Your one-time or ongoing monetary donations are much needed in order to sustain the programs and services at Imua Family Services.”

Apart from the annual gala fundraiser, you can offer financial support throughout the year or contribute to other Imua Family Services-related events like Maui’s first annual Color Festival Hawaii (Sunday, April 1, at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center), Bluesmiths Paddle Imua (Saturday, May 5), Camp Imua (June 15 through June 22) and the Roy’s Golf Classic in October.

To learn more about Imua Family Services or to inquire about donor opportunities, visit www.imuafamilyservices.org or call 244-7467. Tickets for “Festivals of the World: The Bollywood Ball” and the “Taj Mahalo After Party” are selling quickly, so Uhrich suggests reserving your seat right away. For tickets, visit www.imuafamilyservices.org/bollywoodball/#tickets.

By Sarah Ruppenthal
Published in The Maui News – March 3, 2018

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