Piping-hot garlic bread. A tossed green salad. Pasta with a choice of veggie or meat sauce. Chocolate cake.
That’s what was on the dinner menu at the Ka Hale A Ke Ola (KHAKO) Homeless Resource Centers West Side facility on Tuesday, Sept. 15. That evening, residents staying at the shelter enjoyed a delicious meal coordinated by Lori Powers of Island Sotheby’s International Realty and sponsored by Island Sotheby’s International Realty’s West Maui office.
Powers and her colleagues are familiar faces at the Lahaina shelter: They’ve been serving dinner there for the past three years. They are among the many Realtors Association of Maui (RAM) members who sponsor meals at KHAKO’s two facilities in Lahaina and Wailuku throughout the year. The Realtor-coordinated dinners began in 1989, and since then, RAM members—often accompanied by their family members, friends and clients—have gathered in KHAKO’s kitchens to prepare and serve meals on a designated night every month.
The monthly dinners look very different now. In light of COVID-19, volunteers can no longer cook and serve food on site, but they can pick up and deliver pre-made meals to both shelters. “Since COVID-19 hit our islands, [we] made a very difficult decision to halt volunteer services at the facilities in an effort to minimize the chance of spreading the virus,” explained KHAKO Executive Director Monique Ibarra. “Many of our volunteers still wanted to help though—that’s how amazing they are—and we were thrilled to be able to have sponsored meals dropped off to the facility for the guests in the shelter to enjoy.”
Until recently, volunteers from Island Sotheby’s International Realty’s West Maui office had been serving meals at KHAKO’s West Side facility four times a year, but in August, they decided to change the frequency from quarterly to monthly. They now sponsor dinners on the third Tuesday of every month with Powers taking on the role of coordinator. For the first monthly dinner on Sept. 15, she called Juan Gomez, chef and owner of Penne Pasta Café in Lahaina, who unhesitatingly agreed to cook a pasta dinner for 40 people. He generously donated his time and only charged for the actual cost of the food. On the afternoon of Sept. 15, Powers picked up the freshly prepared pasta and sauces and brought them to the shelter, along with several loaves of garlic bread and a large chocolate cake she’d purchased at Safeway.
She will be dropping off dinner again next month—and not just on the third Tuesday.
When Powers first contacted KHAKO to coordinate the deliveries on behalf of Island Sotheby’s International Realty’s West Maui office, she discovered no one was covering dinners on the second Tuesday of the month. But she knew of another group of volunteers who could do it.
Powers is a member of the Lahaina Yacht Club and is one of the club’s Boomvangers, an auxiliary group that hosts special events, organizes community service projects and raises money for annual scholarships. The Boomvangers have volunteered at the shelter over the years; the group enthusiastically agreed to fill the vacant slot.
Powers enjoys making the deliveries, but says she looks forward to the day she can once again prepare and serve meals at the shelter alongside her fellow Realtors and Boomvangers. “It’s so much fun,” she said. “It’s like a family gathering, all cooking together, playing music, laughing and enjoying each other’s company.”
Ibarra is eager for that day to come, too. “We can’t wait to open up our facility again for our beloved volunteers to come in and help, but in the meantime, we really value the food donation drop-offs,” she said. “We are asking the community to avoid coming onto our properties at this time, but a donation online is always so very helpful and much needed. With monetary donations we are able to purchase bus passes, offer laundry money, towels, bedding, slippers and other necessities for the guests.”
To learn more, contact Maka at 868-6002. For more information about Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers, to inquire about donor opportunities, visit www.khako.org or call 242-7600.
The Maui News – September 28, 2020