Army of VMware employees conducts improvement projects around Lahaina
LAHAINA – “We are all Citizen Philanthropists” was the call of a force of 850 VMware employees attacking the special needs of our community last week Wednesday in Lahaina.
Witnesses described the collective action as unbelievable, amazing and flabbergasting.
The West Side was overwhelmed by an abundance of generosity, and the beneficiaries were Kamehameha Iki Park, King Kamehameha III Elementary School, Lahainaluna High School and Na Aikane O Maui Cultural Center.
VMware is a global virtualization and cloud computing software provider based in Palo Alto, California. The subsidiary of Dell Technologies hosted a convention at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua last week.
A press release advised that while VMware and its employees stayed on island, they participated in a Service Learning Event on June 14.
They believe “big things have small beginnings,” and the group wanted to do their part to give back while they were here.
It was inspiring.
At Lahainaluna High School, the wave of volunteers painted K Building, the bus stop and some of the building railings.
“They made a new walking path and fixed one of the old walking paths by the boy’s dorm,” Pakalana Phillips observed.
Phillips is a Special Education, social studies teacher on campus; she helped to coordinate the service event with MC&A, an Oahu-based, full-service destination and event management company.
A few months prior to their arrival last week, she said, representatives from MC&A sent an advance reconnaissance team.
“When they first came and asked us if there was anything they could do, we gave them a whole long list; and, never in our wildest dreams, did we think they were going to do all of it.”
“We thought they would just pick one of them,” Phillips continued. “When they came back and said they were going to do all of them, we were like, ‘What?’ And then they said they were going to pay for all the supplies and then anything that was left over, they were going to donate back to the school,” like wheelbarrows, shovels and picks.
They asked for a “Teachers Wish List” as well.
Some teachers responded, and they were “granted nine air conditioners; every teacher that requested an a/c unit got one,” Phillips said in awe.
“They did 84 gift boxes for each teacher of everyday supplies they would use, like hand sanitizer, tissue and pens and pencils – things they use all the time.
“It was over and beyond anything that we could ever expect,” Phillips recounted.
Down the hill in the center of Lahaina Town at King Kamehameha III Elementary School, the give back was equally bountiful.
Parent Community Networking Center Facilitator Claire Tillman said it was a “jaw-dropping” experience.
“When they said we have a software company coming out, and they want to do community service, I got together with Mr. Franz (school principal), and we compiled a list of things, like a wish list. Things that we need to get done, but we don’t have the money. These are things that have been on our list for years and years that never get done.”
“So I meet with the people,” Tillman continued, “showed them the list and we walked the campus. We thought they would clean a portable or lay a couple of pavers, but they took the whole list and did it all and then added to it.”
Tillman detailed what the corps of 300 volunteers did on campus last week Wednesday afternoon.
“They painted the shed that’s just been dilapidated ever since I have been here – the shed is right outside our third grade classroom. They painted a portable; they painted a trailer, which we use as offices.
“That’s hard work,” she said.
Landscaping and grounds work was also included in the scope.
“We have these big swatches where grass simply won’t grow. They laid sod. They tilled up the ground and they laid sod. There’s areas, too, where sod will not grow, ’cause it’s shady, so they laid pavers.”
Boxes of school supplies for each classroom were contributed, and tools were left behind as well.
Down the street at 562A Front St., the Na Aikane O Maui Cultural Center benefitted from the VMware Citizen Philanthropy.
U’ilani Kapu is the president of the local nonprofit.
“They did a very good job. You can see the difference in everything,” she commented.
“They were remarkable; the things that they did. In our group, it looked like we had 100-200 people. They planted on the front side of our hale, they painted the inside of our building and they hauled green waste over to Kamehameha Iki Park,” she added.
“We got to share a lot about what the plants were, what our facility was, what the surrounding area (Moku’ula) was.
“It was a connection,” she observed.
On the makai side of Front Street at Kamehameha Iki Park, there was another super squad at work the same afternoon at the home base of Hui O Wa’a Kaulua (Assembly of the Double-Hull Canoe).
Kimokeo Kapahulehua is the president of the hui founded in 1975.
He told the Lahaina News the project was funded by VMware.
“They paid for the landscaping company to come in and trim all the palms. They also took all the branches off the other trees that were in the park, so the dry branches wouldn’t fall down and hurt anyone. They removed the older banana trees, replanting it with native plants.”
Kapahulehua was impressed at the thoroughness of the achievements accomplished at the 1.8-acre county facility that afternoon.
“For the traditional hale in the middle of the park, they sanded down all the posts and redid everything with linseed oil. They repainted the wood for the planters and put new native plants around the hale.
“We had 60 people in the older building. Those 60 people were responsible for sanding the Mo’olele (voyaging canoe) down and repainting the top of the Mo’olele and redoing all the seats and all the parts of the canoe. The 60 people came in there and got it all done – what should be done,” he noted.
It was a partnership between the government (County of Maui), private sector and the community.
Three surf schools also participated, including Maui Wave Riders, Opelu Surf School and Royal Hawaiian Surf Company.
The VMware volunteers wanted to make a difference, Kapahulehua explained, and they did.
“In giving back to the community, they made a big difference, knowing that with their cleanup they helped to preserve and perpetuate the culture by supporting Hui o Wa’a Kaulua, which is the double-hull sailing society on Maui.”
Nothing groundbreaking for VMware; it believes in the collective impact of giving back together.
Clifford Nae’ole, the cultural advisor for The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, helped facilitate the community service project last week.
“I was amazed that VMware went above and beyond what each project entailed. Each beneficiary had a wish list, but VMware reps observed that much more was needed and they came through. They are now challenging future groups that come to Maui to outdo VMware. This of course creates a huge win-win for our community and keiki. This also is a great example of the hosted reconnecting with the host,” he said.
“Community, culture and commerce working together for education through cooperation. VMware has left a legacy. Mahalo to VMware!”