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Resource center enjoys strong community support

By Staff | Nov 25, 2009

The center staff includes (from top to bottom) Terry Applegate, Barry Probst, Ronny Santiago, Shelley Watson, Bear Bourgea, Chandra-Mae Medley and Shane Opunui.

LAHAINA — Na Hale O Waine‘e Resource Center opened its doors in early spring 2004 on five acres of land mauka of Honoapiilani Highway and Lahaina Recreation Center.

There are a total of 24 studio units and 24 two-bedroom units. The dorms house ten women and 30 men. Maximum occupancy is 232.

There are currently 41 children and 74 adults living at the center that employs a total of 22 staff members.

Its mission is “to serve the needs of the homeless and hungry on Maui by providing emergency food and housing, to voice their concerns, to empower them to take responsibility for their own lives and to call on the community to assist in these actions.”

Although funded by various government and private agencies and through other fund-raising activities, Na Hale recognizes the link with the West Side community as vital to its success.

“We really have wonderful community support,” Na Hale Site Director Terry Applegate said.

“We have, for example, the Lahaina Yacht Club (LYC),” Applegate added. “They go crazy at Christmas. One year they bought about 20 brand new bicycles, and this year they’re asking parents what the kids would like to have.”

Adell Sievers has been the president the past four years of the LYC Boomvangers.

“We do get full support from the members,” Sievers said, “because we know that what we do for them (Na Hale) will help the community in general. This last year, because we had raised so much money, we gave that jump set for the new child care center there.”

Old Lahaina Luau annually gives to the center during the holiday season.

“The center is one of the beneficiaries of our annual toy drive for many years. We actually brought toys donated by our employees to Wailuku (Ka Hale A Ke Ola) before the Lahaina center opened. Now we divide the 300 to 400 gifts (tots to teens — often teens are forgotten) between both shelters,” Old Lahaina Luau partner Michael Moore said.  

“Holy Innocents (Church) each Sunday has a special offering during announcements called ‘HIPPO’ (Holy Innocents People-to-People Outreach), where people can put in small donations for birthdays, anniversaries, etc. The proceeds are given periodically to organizations that provide meaningful help to the people of Lahaina and West Maui. Na Hale O Waine‘e is one of our regular donees,” Father Bill Albinger said.

“We also have sponsors that come once or twice a month and fix dinner,” Applegate added. “It’s just really, really nice to see the community come in and give a hand like that.”

Lahaina Baptist Church hosts a monthly dinner at the center on the third Thursday.

“They’re a vital part of our town family of West Maui. We’ve got a lot of people attending our church services that live in the resource center. Both mom and dad are working, and they still can’t seem to make ends meet. The resource center is doing a fantastic job,” Lahaina Baptist Church Office Administrator Josta Santos commented.

The Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunrise also hosts a monthly dinner at the resource center.

“We go there once a month, buy all the food and create a menu for 50 people and serve it,” Sunrise President Charles Keoho remarked.

In 2010, the Sunrise Chapter is taking the art of volunteerism one step further, with a gift that gives all year long.

“Our past president, Karen Kondo, had always talked about what a great idea it would be to somehow help them grow their own food,” Keoho said.

“If you feed a man a fish, you feed him for a day; that’s called welfare. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime; that’s called a hand-up,” Keoho explained.

“We’ve discussed it with Terry Applegate at Na Hale O Waine‘e, and he finally found someone who could manage that for them at the site. We’ll be doing a sustainable garden at the West Maui resource center sometime in January,” the Sunrise president added.

“I have one case manager who is a social worker, and he had done several years of organic gardening Upcountry. He’s going to be our classroom instructor, teaching basic botany and how to grow things. He is also going to supervise the clients as they do their work,” Applegate said.

Applegate is enthusiastic about the project.

“We have a courtyard in the middle of our emergency shelter area, and we’re hoping to create a sustainable garden that we can utilize in a couple of different ways. First thing, we will be using it as a life skill’s classroom for our clients, who are required to attend life skill’s classes here. They do computer classes; they do education programs — you name it. We thought we would have one where they would actually learn how to grow food. Then, if we have a successful harvest, we would be using our food in our cafeteria to feed the people,” the site director said.

“We’re also hoping,” Applegate continued, “that if it got to the point where we had enough surplus, that we could open a little produce stand and try to generate some money.  Even though we’re a nonprofit, we still need to do fund-raising, and that might be a way that we could do that.”

The 30 by 30 square foot area is situated in the courtyard next to the center’s cafeteria, protected from the natural elements.  

Applegate has high hopes.

“If it becomes successful, we’ve got a larger area where we can certainly expand and make an even bigger garden next to the children’s day care center,” he added.

In addition to providing life skills and food for the cafeteria, Applegate described how the gardening is a win for everybody involved.

“What we’re wanting to is something that is called square foot gardening. You section it off with either thin strips of wood or string into square foot little plots, like a checkerboard. Each individual can own their own little area. It is an immediate gratification; you are part of helping the rest of the community here,” Applegate said.

“We’ve got the land. We’ve got the irrigation already. We’re missing an opportunity here to educate and be ecologically aware,” he concluded.