"and if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least, you will surely be rewarded." Matthew 10:42
Proclaiming the gospel through acts of service to others is an affirmation of humanity's dignity in the eyes of God. A kind heart cultivated by love and faith clearly defines our relations with our fellow men.
This attitude of selflessness gives us the capacity to see people as they are and to serve them as they really need. In that spirit, retired Maui County Deputy Chief of Police Kekuhaupio "Keku" Akana formed A Cup of Cold Water: Community Care Van. Akana is head coordinator and president of the board of this new outreach ministry. He is an active member of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Wailuku, where he serves as a Eucharistic minister and visitor. He also volunteers in the church's 'Ohana Kitchen Outreach Feeding Program, the Salvation Army and other programs.
“My great grandmother, Lalla Liftee Ordenstein, who lived with us in ‘Īao Valley, had a large influence over my spiritual formation,” retired Maui County Deputy Chief of Police Kekuhaupio “Keku” Akana said. “She read her Hawaiian Bible every day and prayed in fluent Hawaiian every morning and evening.”
Photo: Paul Schumacher
Akana's vision is to create a new food and clothing distribution service for the poor and needy in our community. He plans to use a care van to deliver essential food, hygiene and clothing items throughout the island.
"A few years ago, I began to develop an outreach ministry that would be shared between the four Maui Episcopal Churches," Akana said.
Episcopal Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick in Honolulu has approved this ministry for Good Shepherd Church in Wailuku, Trinity-by-the-Sea Church in Kihei, St. John's Church in Kula and Holy Innocents Church in Lahaina.
This sharing arrangement will allow the churches to serve their respective local communities on a weekly basis.
"Our ministry seeks to promote the dignity of human beings through its service to people of all convictions," Akana added.
One person really can make a big difference. That's the message that Akana hopes will inspire those in the community to join in A Cup of Cold Water. To date, volunteers are retired police officers, fellow Episcopalians, other church members, and those from all backgrounds and ethnicities.
"If you are a non-Christian, we welcome you as a partner who desires to be a Good Samaritan to our neighbors," Akana said.
"We have a training program in which volunteers will be taught the mission policies and mandates, including how to safely approach and work with clients," said Akana, who is no stranger to community service.
Through Episcopal Outreach, Akana co-founded the Queen Emma Athletic Club program in 2003, which continues to serve many at-risk youths in the Wailuku area.
"The club has coached and mentored over 400 kids in the past eight years," Akana said.
He also co-founded the Wailuku Weightlifting Club in 1976, which continues to operate 36 years later. This program has offered physical fitness, bodybuilding, weightlifting and power lifting for thousands of Maui's youth and young adults.
"You only need to be around Keku for a few minutes to feel his passion and compassion for those in need here on Maui," said Jean Fiddes, senior warden at St. John's Church. "In fact, this new Episcopal Outreach Program is a call to all who wish to serve the community and put their faith into action," she said.
"Initially, our van will run three days a week," said Akana, who plans to start service as early as May to West, Central and South Maui. "Once we familiarize ourselves with the homeless population in different locales, hangouts and campsites, we hope to run the van four to five days a week, expanding coverage to the Upcountry and East Maui areas."
Akana intends to conduct mission runs during hours and times when there are no other services.
"Through collaboration and coordination with other outreach and social service groups, we expect to fill in when the other programs are not available," he said.
Involvement in this mission can include prayer, monetary donations, or donations such as food, clothing, hygiene kits, Band-Aids or even "rubba" slippers.
"During the first months, we are hoping to work out the kinks by determining how to stock and supply the van with the fundamental needs of water, nutrition, clothing and comfort," Akana said.
"We are all sojourners, especially those of us involved in A Cup of Cold Water," said Paula Baldwin, prayer leader at Trinity-by-the-Sea Church. "It is my grateful task to pray to God in thanksgiving, in petition and in intercession for A Cup of Cold Water, our volunteers and our clients," she said. "Of course, all are invited to join in this prayer."
"We welcome donations, which are tax-deductible. They can be monetary gifts or items we need to stock and distribute," said Akana.
Checks can be made payable to A Cup of Cold Water: A Community Care Van, 2140 Main St., Wailuku, HI 96793.
If you have any questions or desire to be part of this new ministry, call (808) 264-6783 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.