When the Realtors Association of Maui (RAM) inducted its new slate of officers and directors at its annual installation event last fall, it simultaneously made a difference for kids in need. That day, RAM launched a fundraising campaign to help Ka Hale A Ke Ola (KHAKO) Homeless Resource Centers install a new playground at its facility in Wailuku. RAM members raised $29,200 for the sorely needed playground, which made its official debut during a blessing ceremony held at the facility on Friday, Aug. 9.

“The blessing for the playground was very fulfilling and emotional,” said 2018-19 RAM President Gina Duncan, who spearheaded the fundraiser after touring the facility last summer. “To see children who have no home in a happy environment just enjoying being a kid was wonderful. The parents’ faces truly touched our hearts. It inspired me to think of other projects our homeless families could benefit from and it made me proud that our RAM community helped improve the lives of these children.”

Duncan attended the Aug. 9 blessing alongside RAM Chief Staff Executive David Belew and fellow RAM members Kellie Pali of Creative Financial, Alexandra Schaub of Keller Williams Realty Maui, Mike Trotto of Pali Kai Realtors and Jim Worley of Pali Kai Realtors, who is also a longtime member of KHAKO’s board of directors.

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 underwent a paradigm shift, redirecting its focus to breaking the cycle of homelessness by finding and maintaining permanent housing for its residents.

And breaking the cycle of homelessness and finding and maintaining permanent housing are top-of-mind issues for RAM, which chose “Aloha in Our Community…Housing for Everyone” as the theme to guide the organization forward through 2018-19. Additionally, “housing concerns” is an objective of RAM’s philanthropic arm, the Realtors Association of Maui Community Foundation (RAMCF). Since it was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) organization in 2007, RAMCF has assisted public schools countywide through the Wishing Well…for Maui Students program and awarded $750,000 in academic scholarships to college-bound high school seniors through RAMCF’s Presidential Scholarship Fund.

The fundraiser for the KHAKO playground is the RAMCF’s first housing concerns-related initiative—and it will have an immeasurable impact. “The members of RAM have amazing compassion and care for the keiki in our shelters,” said KHAKO Executive Director Monique Yamashita. “Often times people will donate to our shelter and they don’t get to see the finished project or the joy the project will bring to our families and children… but the blessing for the playground was an amazing experience where the members of RAM were able to see the joy on the faces of the children, who immediately ran to the play structure to play. It was so exciting and soul-satisfying to see the kids having fun.”

Play is an integral part of healing, Yamashita explained. “This playground has strengthened the safety net for our keiki. It will help them build resiliency by allowing them to heal physically and emotionally from the trauma of being homeless,” she said. “We thank the members of RAM and other donors for their generosity and care. The return on investment for this playground will be a healthier and thriving community because RAM members put love into action and made this dream come true.”

KHAKO provides thousands of meals to its residents every year and volunteers are always needed to prep, cook and serve food at its Central and West Side facilities. KHAKO also seeks monetary donations and contributions of goods or services. To learn more about KHAKO or to inquire about donor or volunteer opportunities, visit www.khako.org or call 242-7600. For more information about the Realtors Association of Maui Community Foundation, visit www.ramaui.com/foundation/ram-community-foundation.

The Maui News – August 26, 2019

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