If ever there were an example of strength in numbers, the “100 Real Estate Agents Who Care” fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity Maui is it.

Last fall, Kihei Charter School senior Pōhaku Kepler designed an independent school project that would make a difference in his community. He was familiar with the “100 Women Who Care” and “100 Men Who Care” groups (his grandfather is a member of the 100 Men Who Care Maui Chapter) and decided to create a fundraising program using the same structure: 100 people donate $100 apiece to collectively raise $10,000 for a chosen cause.

Kepler was aware of the Maui real estate community’s philanthropic efforts, so he chose the theme of “100 Real Estate Agents Who Care.” As for the beneficiary, Habitat for Humanity Maui was the natural choice, given that Realtors work to make dreams of homeownership come true. He kicked off the project in November with the goal of raising $10,000 to help the nonprofit build more affordable housing for local low-income families.

Today, he’s not only met his goal—he’s exceeded it. As of Feb. 7, Kepler had raised nearly $14,000 from 100 donors.

Rentals Maui Realtor-Broker Dave Englert is among the 100 donors. “What this young man is doing is a clear example that anyone can make a difference in their community. Many people want to help or participate, but don’t know how. Pohaku may not be hammering the nails on this future home, but he was the one who connected this ‘need’ to a portion of the community collectively willing to help, then put a plan into motion. It’s a good reminder that we don’t have to be superheroes to do great things—sometimes we just need to be willing to use the skills we were given to make a difference in someone else’s life.”

Donna Butterfield of The Wailea Group says she didn’t hesitate to contribute to Kepler’s project. “I’ve always been a supporter of Habitat for Humanity. It’s a wonderful organization and when I heard that’s where the 100 Real Estate Agents Who Care Project would be contributing, I wanted to be a part of it,” she said. “I was so impressed that a student came up with the idea, too. Students like this give me hope for our future. It’s important to help out our community in any way we can and I love that young people are already thinking in that way.”

Like Butterfield, Melissa Zupner Montgomery of Wailea Realty Corp. was deeply inspired by Kepler’s efforts. “My daughter was a Kihei Charter High School student and I thought it was a great student project,” she said. “Habitat for Humanity is charity I like to support. I have been a Maui resident for over 20 years and I see the challenges families have with housing here. It is a great charity to contribute to and I felt very inclined to donate.”

Since it became an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International in 1997, Habitat for Humanity Maui has built and renovated homes on Maui and Lanai. The nonprofit sells homes to low-income individuals and families—those earning between 25 and 80 percent of the median income for Maui County—at a no-interest and no-profit basis.

That’s why fundraising efforts like Kepler’s are so important, said Max Tornai, development director for Habitat for Humanity Maui. “These donations couldn’t have come at a better time: we’re finishing 10 new homes in Lahaina and just completed a four-bedroom home in the Keokea-Waiohuli Hawaiian Homelands subdivision—with three more coming up—so we really need all the financial support we can get to make these homes a reality for our partner families.”

And while it may be called “100 Real Estate Agents Who Care,” you don’t have to be a Realtor to participate in the project. “Non-Realtors can donate to the project as well,” Kepler said. “The more donations we get, the more of an impact we can make.”

To learn more about the project or to make a donation, visit www.100RealEstateAgentsWhoCare.com. You can also donate to Habitat for Humanity directly, either through the nonprofit’s website or by mailing a check to 1162 Lower Main St. Wailuku, HI 96793 (write “100 Real Estate Agents Who Care” in the memo line). For more information about Habitat for Humanity Maui or to inquire about volunteer opportunities, visit www.habitat-maui.org or call 242-1140.

The Maui News – February 17, 2020

Photo credit: Liza Pierce

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