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People Who Made A Difference

Heroes in every shape and form

As the daughter of a nurse and the sister of an EMT, I’ve always seen health care workers and first responders as my heroes. This year, that’s truer than ever. As emergency rooms and ICUs filled up across the country, and as paramedics, police and firefighters responded to calls unsure of ...

Taking care of us all

Fighting the instinct to save someone without first protecting yourself is one of the hardest adjustments for Maui’s frontline health care workers, a tight-knit group that thrives off community and sacrifice. Before March — when the pandemic began to hit the Valley Isle — putting the ...

Beyond the call of duty

When he swore an oath to protect and serve three decades ago, Lt. William Hankins vowed to keep his community safe. Thirty years later, he remains steadfastly committed to that pledge. Over the course of his law enforcement career, the Maui Police Department veteran has worked in the ...

Paying it forward

At first, Gary Marks thought there had been a terrible accident. Early one morning in mid-July, the longtime Kihei resident ventured out for a cup of coffee. As he drove down Piilani Highway, he passed by a long line of cars pulled off to the side. But as he continued down the highway, he ...

Coming together at the seams

Behind COVID-19’s very dark clouds, there are silver linings. The Maui Face Mask Project is one of them. It was a true labor of love: Over the course of eight weeks, nearly 200 volunteers from all walks of life came together to produce 10,000 medical-grade masks for Maui’s health care ...

Extra scoop of kindness

It’s a sunny Wednesday afternoon and a small, socially distanced crowd is gathered outside the bright green Pastele House Maui food truck in the University of Hawaii Maui College parking lot. Inside, owners Cristina and Devin Pagaduan busily prepare traditional Puerto Rican dishes, everything ...

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 ...