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A salute to 15 community treasures

By Staff | Aug 13, 2015

Jim Coon, along with his brother, Randy, help preserve reefs through the Blue ‘Aina program at Trilogy Excursions.

WEST MAUI – Every once in a while, you hear the comment, “If you don’t like it, go back to the Mainland” made to those who are doing something people born here do not like. If all these “newcomers” left, this would be Maui’s loss. As a matter of fact, if you have been here for decades, are you still a newcomer?

Without these “transplants,” there would not be very much restoration work done in Honokowai Valley, a $300,000 modernization of Lahaina Public Library, and there would probably not be a very strong tutoring program in the Lahaina Complex.

Some things clearly should not be changed, and those of us who were not born here have no right to try to change them. But other things, possibly including cane burning, need to be changed. This becomes a better place when it improves. And there is plenty of need for improvement.

The subject comes up because Ruth McKay, one of the founders of the LahainaTown Action Committee, is leaving the island after many years to address her husband Joe’s health challenges.

She follows Lahaina News longtime food writer Helen Reed and husband Rob, who moved to California last year for similar reasons.

Here we salute just a few malihini (newcomers), some of whom are well-known and others who work without much recognition.

SCOTT, TOM (California) – His Scott Brothers Pacific painted the entire interior of the Lahaina Public Library for free in 2012 and also painted the exterior at a discounted price. Noticing this summer that the exterior paint had not taken well, Scott on his own initiative brought in crews this summer to do a free repaint job on the exterior (Ameritone donated the paint).

LUCKEY, JIM (Oregon) – The late historic preservationist, among those paid by a nonprofit for full-time work, laid the base for what the Lahaina Restoration Foundation is today.

MORRISON, THEO (California) – Theo led the group (LahainaTown Action Committee) that brought us the Festival of Canoes. Now at Lahaina Restoration Foundation, Theo launched Lahaina Plantation Days and added a host of programs to showcase Lahaina’s history. She also sells to us very fresh eggs.

MAY, LIZ (California) – Liz has headed 5A-Rent-A- Space for years. She played a key role in fund-raising for the modernization of Lahaina Public Library, sponsors recycling programs at her place of business and is a strong supporter of Women Helping Women.

COON FAMILY (originally from Alaska) – Eldon, the founder of Trilogy Excursions, and his two sons came to Maui to start Trilogy catamaran trips to Lanai. The latest of three generations now sponsors a monthly Blue ‘Aina program, boarding volunteers to clean up reefs.

FOOTE, LIZ (Connecticut and California) – Liz, a coordinator of volunteers involved with marine conservation, wrote in an e-mail: “Our Kaanapali Makai Watch team includes folks who weren’t born here, and some who were, and they are all amazingly dedicated and inspirational. They help with education and outreach, as well as citizen science, in support of the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area in North Kaanapali.”

TRYGSTAD, JOHN (Minnesota) – This former Twinkie salesman picks up hundreds of used books at homes, week after week, and delivers them to the Maui Friends of the Library. He also works on other projects too numerous to mention. Dozens of volunteers who staff MFOL bookstores have sold enough books to buy the state a new $300,000 bookmobile for Maui. This group is particularly in need of more volunteers, since it must have personnel on-hand at its Queen Ka’ahumanu Center store every hour the shopping center is open.

And let us not forget Joan McKelvey (Australia), founder of the LahainaTown Committee and active here for 40 years; Pat and Richard Endsley (California), who run a giant tutoring operation; Roz Baker (Texas), who is a state senator and very active with numerous non-profits; Bob and Diane Pure (New Jersey and Washington State), with Bob working with the state to solve traffic problems through Lahaina Bypass Now, and Diane incredibly busy teaching Lahainaluna High School college prospects how to write good application essays; and Jo Ann Carroll, a MFOL board member who runs three bookstores.

We have many Native Hawaiians serving the community, including those in this short list:

KEEAUMOKU KAPU led this year’s environmental awareness march around the island. His newest activities revolve around a cultural museum near the Lahaina Town tennis courts to teach keiki and older Hawaiians about the culture.

DAVID KAPAKU runs a Toastmasters group in Kapalua that teaches people how to make better speeches in public appearances.

And the LINDSEY FAMILY, leading the restoration of Honokowai Valley and many other projects.

The list of people could go on and on. Many are left out, and including them would probably fill this entire page. Needless to say, it is good that most have been able to stay and did not “go back to the Mainland.”

Columnist’s Notebook: Some ten columns have featured Kapu, Kapaku, the Lindseys, McKelvey, Pure, the Endsleys, Luckey, Morrison, Baker and Carroll. They have all been profiled in this column over the years (several more than once). Incidentally, your columnist (from Illinois) recently was honored by the Society of Professional Journalists-Hawaii Chapter as a finalist for the best feature column in the state, and a finalist as the best independent journalist. Another feather in the cap for your Lahaina News, winner of many awards from our peers in the last ten years.