At the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, our hearts are heavy with the news of the lives that have been lost and the devastating wildfires that have destroyed Lahaina town in Maui.
Many of you have reached out to us asking how you can help and where you can donate. I have reached out to colleagues who are part of organizations in philanthropy, nonprofits who do emergency aid work, and community based organizations. There are numerous organizations who can help and the following is not an exhaustive list, but we just wanted to get this out.
We are always saddened when people take advantage of fundraising during emergencies and disasters such as this one, so you can be assured that the following organizations and efforts are some of the best and legitimate. We especially send our aloha and deepest sympathies to all those who have been impacted by this tragedy.
Lahaina is special to so many people for many reasons. As a Kānaka ʻŌiwi or Native Hawaiian, I grieve the destruction of this sacred place that has significance for Native peoples. It has many historically important cultural properties including being the piko (center) of traditional religious and political life. It served as the home and capital of the newly unified Kingdom of Hawaii under Kamehameha after he succeeded in unifying all the Hawaiian islands in 1810. Lahaina is revered by Native Hawaiians because it is also associated with Kihawahine, the guardian spirit of Kamehameha’s sacred wife, Keōpūolani, who is buried in Moku’ula, among other high ranking people.
As with many places in the Hawaiian islands, Lahaina was impacted by centuries of changing industry from whaling and sugar production to tourism. The migration of people from around the world to work in these industries created a thriving economy and workforce in which diverse cultural intersections and bonds were formed that exist to this day. But it also pushed Native Hawaiians off of the land and made it difficult to practice our culture and religion in our own ways.
Kamanamaikalani Beamer, a professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Center for Hawaiian Studies, makes a poignant statement in a recent LA Times article. “The long history of Lahaina is not just a story of changing industry but also one of extreme resilience from Native Hawaiians. The same communities hit hardest by these fires are the ones that fiercely battled the diversions of water to sugar and pineapple plantations, which dried out their land, and the downside of a booming tourism industry, which left them priced out of their own homes. If there is a community that’s an example of resilience and battling these structures for so many generations…I think it’s them.”
T. Lulani Arquette
Native Arts and Cultures Foundation
Maui Strong Fund The Maui Strong Fund was created by the Hawai’i Community Foundation (HCF) to provide community resilience with resources for disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. The fund is currently being used to support communities affected by the wildfires on Maui. The Maui Strong Fund is providing resources that can be deployed quickly, with a focus on rapid response and recovery for the devastating wildfires that are still taking place on Maui.
HCF is working in close collaboration with state and county leaders, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and philanthropists to get a clear understanding of the quickly evolving priorities in our community. HCF will prioritize non-profit organizations that are supporting community-based rapid response and recovery efforts. Funding will support evolving needs, including shelter, food, financial assistance, and other services as identified by our partners doing critical work on Maui.
Kako’o Maui A match donation fund with a $1,500,000 goal. Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) is partnering with Kamehameha Schools, Alakaʻina Foundation Family of Companies and Kākoʻo Haleakalā to match up to $1,500,000 in community donations for ʻohana impacted by the devastating wildfires on Maui.
Maui Humane Society Maui Humane Society’s mission is to protect and save the lives of Maui’s animals, accepting all in need, educating the community, and inspiring respect and compassion towards all animals. Maui Humane Society estimates there are 3,000 lost or missing pets due to the fires. MHS is working with emergency response teams to provide medical attention to pets in need in Lahaina.
Aloha United Way To support individuals and families devastated by Maui’s catastrophic fires, Aloha United Way has established a Maui Fire Relief Fund on its website, AUW.org. 100% of proceeds are directed to Maui United Way whose partner agencies, such as Maui Food Bank, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, are distributing relief funds according to the community’s most urgent needs.
Laulima Giving Program The Laulima Giving Program, one of the many community-focused programs at the Keiki O Ka ‘Aina Learning Center, partners with KHON2 to assist struggling and deserving families, the elderly, and individuals, including children with special needs, families affected by incarceration, and single parents through donations of goods, cash equivalents, enriching experiences and advocacy.
‘Āina Momona is one of many organizations mobilizing to provide support to the families impacted by the devastating wildfires that occurred on August 8, 2023. They have two primary fundraisers going: one in partnership with the Maui Strong Fund and the other which provides direct emergency aid to Maui families who have been verified by their community partners to have been impacted by Maui wildfires.