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A Cup of Cold Water helps the most vulnerable in the community

By Staff | Jan 4, 2018

The mobile outreach serves the needy on Sundays in Kihei, Wednesdays in the Wailuku-Kahului area and Saturdays in Lahaina.

LAHAINA – For the past four years, the streets of our island have been blessed by A Cup of Cold Water (ACCW) community care van.

Founded by Keku Akana, retired Maui County deputy chief of police, ACCW is “an all-volunteer Outreach Ministry of the Episcopal Church of Maui and friends delivering basic needs: water, food, hygiene supplies and dignity to the neediest of Maui’s people,” Paula Baldwin, the current ACCW board president, told the Lahaina News.

According to Baldwin, “It began as a need seen by a few Episcopalians, then the four Episcopal churches (on Maui) got together to buy the van and go,” including Good Shepherd, Holy Innocents, St. John’s and Trinity By-the-Sea.

“The community we serve,” Baldwin explained, “is the most vulnerable, the easiest to walk by and not see. It is difficult for them to ferret out help, to physically get to a service organization. We come to them and offer basic human needs, look at them, listen to them, offer prayer; and, when asked, can suggest a service organization they might contact.”

The outreach serves the needy on Sundays in Kihei, Wednesdays in the Wailuku-Kahului area and Saturdays in Lahaina.

A well-maintained miracle, it takes a cavalry of goodwill messengers to keep the wheels turning.

At ground zero in Lahaina at Holy Innocents on Front Street, “Team Outreach” begins with its parishioners through a program called “Change for the Soul.”

Church members are given the opportunity to adopt a hippopotamus piggy bank for four weeks. The plastic purple banks are filled with coins and cash and returned to church for re-adoption.

All of the “Change for Soul” collections are used for purchasing the water, bread, peanut butter and jelly spreads, fruits and protein packs for the Saturday morning run.

“At the moment, there are at least 85-90 individuals giving time and talent to make the van run smoothly. The Supply Room team, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich makers, the run leaders, run riders, board (and) people in different churches gathering donations,” Baldwin detailed.

“In the 2015 annual report, it is estimated that $45,616 hours of volunteer time had been given,” she advised.

“We estimate,” Baldwin added, “that if we keep $35,000 in the bank, we could keep running for a year if donations dried up. It is a very complicated series of cogs in a wheel that are kept oiled, so the wheel can stay on the journey God has given us.”

The West Side trek on Saturdays begins in Wailuku at 8 a.m. at the Good Shepard Church, where a “run leader” and two “run riders” meet to pick up the care van and restock supplies.

The Lahaina News joined the team at Holy Innocents, 561 Front St., on one Saturday morning last month.

The run leader/driver is a member of the Front Street congregation and local resident. This person wished to remain anonymous and will be referred to in this article as RL.

“Leave my name out of it. It’s not about me doing this. This is about A Cup of Cold Water doing it. I don’t want to take any credit; I’m just driving. We’re giving out food and other items of need. It’s about giving back and sharing and acknowledging that there are people who need help. It’s a joy for me to be able to do this,” RL stressed.

There was only one run rider on that weekend: 18-year-old Angela Cainguitan, a Maui High School student and Good Shepherd parishioner.

“This is for my senior project, but I also wanted to get to know our homeless community on Maui. I’ve had four runs,” the aspiring nursing student commented.

“It is important to me just getting to know the people,” Cainguitan commented.

“I really like how they are coping with their situation. I like meeting the people. Even though I am back here working, I get to see their faces.”

And the path through Lahaina’s byways and gathering places was an eye-opening experience for the community press.

First, the white care van is more than a grocery store room – it’s a well-stocked and efficiently packed cupboard of basic needs, like first aid supplies, clothing, rain gear, personal hygiene items, backpacks, shoes, towels, hats and books.

The camaraderie and fellowship expressed was inspiring, as well as contagious.

At each stop, there was genuine gratitude for the good deeds on both sides of the van, with an abundance of mutual appreciation, blessings and care proffered.

There were no questions asked. “No” was a word not heard. It was a give and take of exemplary proportions.

Greetings were exchanged on a first name basis.

“That’s one of the things we like to do. We like to recognize them for who they are. When we can attach a name to the person, it seems like they understand that we see them, if that makes any sense?” RL asked.

There are different levels of need, RL observed. “It’s all about giving the homeless a hand up.”

With 804 people served and 14 mission runs, the distribution stats for ACCW for November 2017 were compiled: chilled water, 804; hygiene items, 1,604; basic first aid, 350; food, 5,506; clothing, 564; and Bibles/daily bread, 61.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were served on ten runs over 500 thanks to the Kahului Hongwanji, Wailuku Hongwanji, 4H students, the parishioners of the Trinity By-the-Sea and Holy Innocents churches and Wynni Simplat.

Dedicated board members of ACCW, including Baldwin, are Rev. Linda Decker, secretary; Leah Sarme, treasurer; John Decker, finance officer; Chuck Spence, information officer; Rev. Amy Crowe, Diocese Hawaii clergy representative; Peter Lee, Diocesan representative; Joan Vila, new volunteer coordinator; Barbara Zipf, supply team representative; Kit Hart, stats; and Mary Lou Mellinger, at-large.

For more information, to volunteer or donate, contact Baldwin or Mellinger at (808) 419-1637 or e-mail acupofcoldwatermaui@gmail.com.