People Who Made A Difference

Shining examples of goodness in Maui County

Every year, we marvel at the selfless deeds, the pure goodness and concern for the less fortunate in our community, the empathy and altruism on display in our People Who Made A Difference. This year, a woman raised $200,000 for victims of the Aug. 24 brush fires with her Lahaina Strong ...

From the heart

As the saying goes, not all heroes wear capes. But if you meet Paul Tonnessen, you might start to wonder if he has one hidden somewhere. Tonnessen is the executive director of the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center of Maui, a nonprofit organization that serves approximately 800 ...

Going deep

For as long as she can remember, Robin Newbold has been enamored with the sea. As a kid growing up in New Jersey, she spent her summers at the beach. There, she became keenly interested in the creatures that lived on the shoreline — from the tiny critters that skittered across the sand to ...

Answering the call

It started out like any other weekend. But the morning of Saturday, Jan. 13, turned out to be anything but normal. Emergency services dispatcher Kanoe Agcaoili had just finished her overnight shift and was headed home to get some well-deserved shut-eye. As she drove out of the Wailuku ...

Call to action

At 1:30 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 24, Jordan Ruidas was startled awake by the insistent ring of her cellphone. Groggily, she answered — and says her pulse quickened when the caller told her there was a large brush fire near Puamana in Lahaina. Ruidas, 23, is the co-owner of Westside Tow and ...

A class act

Maybe you had that one teacher. The one who was always there for you. The one who inspired you to work hard and dream big. The one you’ll never forget. Ellen Federoff is one of those teachers. When she landed a job teaching 6th grade in her hometown of Los Angeles fresh out of graduate ...

People who made a difference, past and present

2018: Ellen Federoff, Maui Central Dispatch, Robin Newbold, Jordan Ruidas, Paul Tonnessen. (5) 2017: Joyce Afalla; Mary Dungans and Mana‘olana Pink Paddlers; Lawrence Kauha‘aha‘a and Wailuku Clean & Safe; Keolahou Church Food Pantry in north Kihei volunteers; Kurt Suzuki. (5) 2016: ...

No shortage of inspiration

The holiday season ushers in a time of giving, hope and joyousness. It is a time to reflect on the bounty we have and on those less fortunate whom we want to share in the joy of the season. Amid the turbulence and conflict across the country and around the world, the mantra “Peace on Earth” ...

Joyce Afalla

For The Maui News Every now and then, while Joyce Afalla is out running errands, someone will tap her on the shoulder, throw their arms around her and say “thank you.” These encounters are not out of the ordinary, but even so, Afalla is often surprised. “Sometimes it’s a person I ...

Keolahou Church food pantry

For The Maui News When Alohalani Eldredge flew to Las Vegas for a family vacation a few weeks ago, she didn’t forget to pack her cellphone charger. As she ate brunch at her hotel on a late Friday morning, she couldn’t help but glance at the screen of her fully charged phone every few ...

Mary Dungans

For The Maui News All it took was one cup of coffee. On a bright October morning seven years ago, Mary Dungans was lugging an outrigger canoe ashore at Sugar Beach in north Kihei when she spotted a group of women in matching pink shirts sipping coffee at a nearby picnic table. One of the ...

Wailuku Clean & Safe

For The Maui News If you don’t think a broom can be a catalyst for change, you haven’t been to Wailuku town lately. Over the past year and a half, Market Street, the town’s main retail thoroughfare, has undergone a remarkable transformation. “It’s night and day,” said Lawrence ...

Kurt Suzuki

For The Maui News Kurt Suzuki may have made it to the big leagues but Maui is never far from his mind. The Atlanta Braves catcher and Baldwin High School graduate has resided on the Mainland since 2004 but hasn’t let the distance keep him from making a difference in his hometown. “I ...

People who made a difference, past and present

2017: Joyce Afalla; Mary Dungans and Mana‘olana Pink Paddlers; Lawrence Kauha‘aha‘a and Wailuku Clean & Safe; Keolahou Church Food Pantry in north Kihei volunteers; Kurt Suzuki. (5) 2016: Holoholo Bookmobile: Sara Foley, Dorothy Tolliver and Susan Werner; Wesley Lo; Don McLeish; Na ...

For Maui, a never-ending story

The “People Who Made A Difference” is a favorite of mine during this most wonderful time of year. Having had a hand in this annual holiday season feature since its inception 22 years ago, the stories of Maui County residents’ acts of selflessness and contributions that mean so much to ...

The Holoholo Bookmobile

They say good things come in threes. That’s certainly the case with Sara Foley, Dorothy Tolliver and Susan Werner, who joined forces five years ago to purchase a gift for the Hawaii State Public Library System: The Holoholo Bookmobile. “We decided that if we were going to give a ...

Wesley Lo

When he was the chief executive officer of Hawaii Health Systems Corp. Maui Region, Wesley Lo found a way to turn a bad day around: He’d observe an open-heart surgery. “It kept me connected to what was happening at the hospital,” he said. “It was also a reminder of why I did my ...

Don McLeish

Seven years ago, Don McLeish was on a mission to photograph some sea horses. “Underwater photography is a hobby,” he said. “I’ve taken thousands of photos of sea critters.” Sea horses are hard to find in Hawaiian waters, but a friend tipped him off: A sea horse had been spotted at ...

Na Hoaloha

Candice Carter can tell you with absolute certainty that the little things can make a big difference. “The small things really do add up,” she said. “That’s something I see every day.” Carter is the executive director of Na Hoaloha, a nonprofit organization that pairs volunteers ...

Dean Yamashita & Craig Okita

For Craig Okita and Dean Yamashita, “baseball is life” is more than just a catchy slogan — it’s a guiding principle. To say that the two men are familiar with the game would be an understatement. Okita played shortstop for Baldwin High School, then took the field for University of ...