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Community Action Groups Serve South Maui

Volunteer power provides support, safety, care and cohesion in Kihei.

October 24, 2013
Celeste Keele - Contributing Writer , Maui Weekly

At the opening of the Kihei Community Assocation (KCA) meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 15, Board Member Daniel Kanahele expressed gratitude for everyone's attendance and for the day's rainfall--especially for the drops that fell on parched Kihei.

KCA President Mike Moran added a concern about flooding, saying, "Even with today's light rains, there was mud in the ocean and even ash. We need to do something about flooding. We can't just keep putting it off, even though today's flooding wasn't as serious as other floods."

After opening comments, the meeting featured several nonprofit, volunteer, community action groups in South Maui, each taking a turn to introduce themselves to the public.

Article Photos

Kīhei Community Association President Mike Moran and Board Member Daniel Kanahele open up October’s meeting by thanking attendees for participating in these meetings about the welfare of Kīhei.

If you need some respite from caring day and night for an aging loved one, (MADCC) Maui Adult Day Care Centers can help.

"Our staff is very well versed in issues related to aging," said Sandy Freeman, MADCC program coordinator. "We all deserve to be treated with love, dignity and compassion. We look at this work as a privilege. The most important thing is to bring a spark back to someone's day to make their moments enjoyable. We play the old-time music; dance the fox trot; tell the old-time stories."

In addition to providing time off for the caregivers of the elderly, sick or those affected by dementia, MADCC also offers caregivers free counseling and support groups.

"It's the caregivers we worry about too--they can burn out or get depressed," said Freeman

This program allows the aging person to continue living at home, which keeps family close and costs low.

"You don't need to have someone in the center to get the counseling," Freeman added. "We're not in it for the money."

MADCC just opened a new center in Kihei, which is not yet filled to capacity. For more information, go to www.madcc.org.

For those who have some extra time--even a little--and want to help out by looking out for the safety of the community, Kihei Police Officer Emily Kibby suggested forming a Neighborhood Watch, a crime-prevention program that's been around since the 1970s (see usaonwatch.com to learn more and for instructions and manual downloads).

"Your neighborhood watch can be as active as you want it to be--or just have it set up as phone tree, a way to get ahold of each other in the neighborhood," explained Kibby.

Then Kibby said, "One of the cool things I get to do with my job," is working with the South Maui Citizens Patrol (SMCP), which watches for break-ins at parking lots, for example. They are also a presence in the parks, "looking for suspicious activities, and they call the police when something doesn't look quite right. This group is a huge benefit for our county--both the services and the wealth of experience they provide.

"We have about 15 active members, but we're growing, said Kibby. "We're trying to increase that number."

They may also be looking for volunteer clerical work at the new police station, so that might be an option for people who don't want to be out driving around, Kibby noted.

If you've ever walked the path at Kalama Park at sunset and been grateful for our beautiful parks here in Kihei, add Kalama Park Action Team (KPAT) to your mahalo list. KPAT, which formed in 2003, partners with the county Department of Parks and Recreation and the Maui Police Department. These volunteers pick up litter, remove giant piles of dirt, paint over graffiti, remove blind spots in the bush, maintain the whale scupture, and disrupt illegal and dangerous activity. They also built the whale trail.

KPAT's mission is "to develop and maintain a safe, clean, beautiful, inviting, user-friendly gathering place through community involvement, projects and advocacy."

Representing them at the KCA meeting was Mike Trotto, who asked for "people to come and join us. You'll be rewarded."

Trotto showed some striking before and after photos of the park and commented on what a sordid, dangerous place the park used to be.

"We used to have confrontations," Trotto explained. "We were just a presence. We'd let the authorities know and then step back and let the MPD deal with it."

Trotto added, "Donations and more volunteers would be wonderful."

KPAT has more than 100 people on its email list, and four to six go out on each patrol.

Patrol participants meet behind Foodland and the current police station on the first Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m.

"When we schedule a work party, even more people show up and make short work of it," said Trotto.

Have you ever asked yourself, "Where's this neighborhood going? And how can I do something about it?" Kevin Curry did when he bought a home in Kihei and started to care deeply about having a sense of place within his neighborhood, rather than it just being known as "the neighborhood across the street from Shaka Pizza."

Curry wanted to build more pride in his "hood" with his neighbors' help. He walked door-to-door with his self-made flyers, and "met a lot of very nice people, and people who've been living in the neighborhood for 30 years."

Curry and his neighbors started Waimaha'iha'i District Neighborhood Association (WDNA) for residents of the area between Kupuna Street and Welakahao Road, mauka of South Kihei Road, which encompasses several hundred homes. They have a big agenda, starting with painted street numbers for each residence, uniform mailboxes down the line, and beginning work with arborists to educate residents about how to take care of the native plants and how to make the neighborhood look its most beautiful.

"In this day and age, we know more about Syria than we do about our own neighborhoods," said Curry. "When I started this, I didn't know anyone in our neighborhood. Now I know my neighbors. The synergy that happens when that sort of aloha occurs in a neighborhood."

When asked by an audience member about the realities of the disconnect out there between neighbors, despite talk of aloha, Curry answered, "There is darkness out there, sure. But do everything you can to be part of the light--a candle in the wind."

Last up was the Uluniu Beach Reserve Association (UBRA), currently an informal association of homeowners who "came together to address the lack of maintenance and care of the reserve along this part of the beach," said President Gary Passon.

An entirely volunteer organization soon to be formalized, they work with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to restore dunes, take care of coconut trees, and provide signage and accessibility to the general public.

For more information, email gary@alohaaku.com.

Last but certainly not least in the list of nonprofit volunteer community action groups, the KCA is an inclusive volunteer group hoping to inform the public of issues in the community and give the community a voice in all things that concern Kihei. As the KCA Website says, KCA is "working together to shape our community."

This was the last public meeting of the year; next month's meeting will be a members-only party on Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) land on Ulunui Road.

Three's Bar and Grill, a gold business member of the KCA, will cater the food, and it's worth it to join the KCA just to be able to attend this year-end party," said Moran.

The KCA meets at Kihei Charter School on Lipoa Street. For more information, go to gokihei.com.

 
 

 

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