I am privileged to witnessing random acts of kindness every day. But every once in a while, I'm still amazed at how the littlest gesture of kindness can trigger so much good in our community.
Mikeila Yamamoto, a 10th-grade student at Kamehameha Schools Maui, reminded me that good, selflessness and kindness are alive in the hearts of Maui's youth. At a time when most teenagers are begging mom and dad for a car or the latest iPhone, Mikeila took it upon herself to use her 16th birthday as an opportunity to help others and to inspire generosity amongst her peers. In lieu of gifts for her special day, Mikeila asked her teenage guests to make a donation to Maui United Way. In doing so, she was able to make a $525 contribution that will touch the lives of many less fortunate here on Maui.
As Maui United Way winds down in the last month of our 2011-2012 campaign year, I hope you will look upon Mikeila's good will as inspiration to make a difference in your community. Nonprofits serve as the backbone in our community, providing much needed health and human services that change lives for the better every day. Yet, the hard truth is that many nonprofits are still severely challenged by our recovering economy, left maneuvering through an influx of increased need while funding sources continue to pull back and become more and more competitive.
Maui's nonprofits need support. Right now, Maui United Way is helping people through the support of essential local programs offered by local partner agencies. Whether helping individuals find food and safe shelter in a time of crisis or providing health services, medical care and support to families in need, our partner agencies do inspiring work. Thanks to the generous support of thousands people like Mikeila, this work continues at a time of even greater need.
Last year, Maui United Way touched the lives of more than 63,000 in Maui County. Maui United Way continues to improve lives for the better through the work of our 36 health and human service programs. Here are some examples of how Maui United Way's Partner Agency Programs have made a difference in our community in the last six months:
* Aloha House had 92 percent of its clients complete its medically monitored social detoxification program on the road to sobriety from drugs and alcohol.
* American Red Cross responded to 12 disaster incidents, enabling 59 individuals to recover from their losses and begin rebuilding their lives.
* Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Hawaii assisted 253 overburdened families in regaining control of their financial lives through counseling and debt management education.
* Feed My Sheep provided essential food and support to 5,799 people to sustain and improve their physical and emotional health.
* Women Helping Women provided shelter and safety for 151 women and children who were victims of domestic violence.
* The Salvation Army provided about 2,600 emergency food boxes for its clients.
* Hospice Maui provided 140 patients with quality, compassionate care for the terminally ill.
* Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center provided 1,151 clients with temporary emergency, transitional or affordable permanent shelter.
I would like to invite everyone to be part of the change. Whether you give money, volunteer time or advocate for solutions, no contribution is too small.
For more information how to give, advocate or volunteer, please call Maui United Way at 244-8787, visit the website www.mauiunitedway.org or send mail to 270 Hookahi St., Suite 301, Wailuku 96793.
Together we can inspire hope and create opportunities for a better tomorrow. Mahalo for your support and for choosing to make a difference.
* Laksmi M. Abraham is the president and chief professional officer of Maui United Way.